JUST IN: Trump's New AG Faces Possible Federal Investigation
The investigators are probing whether Whitaker’s accepting of the donations, amounting to $8,800, violated the Hatch Act’s prohibitions on political activities by federal employees.
A spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel confirmed to CNN that it had received a complaint from the watchdog organization American Oversight and a case file had been opened. The office has the power to investigate Hatch Act violations and determine possible reprimands, but cannot take disciplinary action itself, according to CNN.
"After years of being completely dormant and only after he joined [former Attorney General] Jeff Sessions' office as chief of staff, Whitaker's campaign started receiving a cluster of contributions," Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, told CNN. "It appears to violate the black-letter law of the Hatch Act."
Neither the Office of Special Counsel nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill. The Office of Special Counsel is an independent agency separate from the Justice Department special counsel's office probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former federal prosecutor, also requested the Office of Special Counsel investigate Whitaker for Hatch Act violations.