A watchdog group on Wednesday submitted a complaint to the Office of Special Counsel urging a probe of allegations that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker accepted political contributions while a federal employee.
Mr. Whitaker’s 2014 Iowa U.S. Senate campaign committee is still active and received $8,800 between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, according to liberal-leaning watchdog American Oversight’s review of Federal Election Commission reports.
That coincides with Mr. Whitaker collecting a taxpayer-funded salary while serving as chief of staff for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Some of the campaign contributors appear to be affiliated with Mr. Whitaker’s former lobbying clients, American Oversight said. Mr. Whitaker mounted a failed bid for Iowa’s Senate seat in 2014, finishing third in the primary.
American Oversight is asking the OSC to probe whether the campaign contributions violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that says government workers cannot “knowingly solicit, accept or receive a political contribution from any person.”
“The nation’s highest law enforcement officer should be above reproach, but acting Attorney General Whitaker’s financial disclosures raise potential concerns of both dishonesty and covert partisan conflicts of interest,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight in a statement.
“Even after days of refusing to release these forms while they underwent last-minute revisions, Whitaker hasn’t been able to avoid obvious problems that demand investigation,” Mr. Evers said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Whitaker released Tuesday his financial disclosure forms after five revisions. The documents revealed that he earned more than $900,000 from a right-wing nonprofit organization and $15,000 in fees as a commentator for CNN, among other income.