Sen. Cruz Asks Hatch Act Special Counsel to Investigate Biden’s Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Signs

June 24, 2024

Committee Probe Uncovers Admin Deliberately Hired Campaign Design Firm for Public Works Signage

WASHINTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is requesting the U.S. Office of Special Counsel investigate the Biden administration’s requirement that states, localities, and even nonprofits seeking federal infrastructure grants display signs designed by the Biden campaign. In a letter to Special Counsel Hampton Y. Dellinger, Sen. Cruz outlines how the Biden administration is politicizing the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law by issuing strict guidelines for applicants to display these signs on federally funded projects, potentially violating both the Hatch Act and the First Amendment.

In a letter to the Special Counsel, Sen Cruz writes,

“... the Biden administration has highly politicized such signage by ‘strongly encourag[ing]’ federal agencies to condition the receipt of federal project funding on giving the President credit for the project.

“A February 24, 2023, Office of Management and Budget Controller Alert—issued by then-Acting Controller Deirdre Harrison, who was serving illegally at the time —instructs agencies’ chief financial officers to impose “‘signage and public acknowledgement requirements . . . in the terms and conditions of award agreements.’”

“The Controller Alert claims that this propagandizing will promote “‘transparency and accountability to the American public.’” Not so. Rather, the administration designed these signs to endorse a political campaign: the reelection of President Biden.”

The letter highlights how the administration's strict guidelines require every sign to contain two key features that make the endorsement to President Biden clear.

“First, the signs must identify—in large, bold, centered text—the relevant law that Congress passed as “‘President Joe Biden’s’” law...

“…Second, the signs must also include special marks that were purposefully designed to look like the Biden-Harris campaign logo; both were designed by the same firm.”

The letter raises concerns over the Biden administration using the same designer for both the Biden-Harris campaign logo and the official signs.

“According to the founder of Studio Mosaic, who designed the Biden-Harris 2020 logo, the White House selected her firm to design the ‘Building a Better America’ branding, likely to ensure consistency between the taxpayer-funded signs and the campaign’s signs.

“In fact, Studio Mosaic acknowledged deliberately designing the “‘Building a Better America’” mark—which the Biden administration later updated to “’Investing in America’” —to remind viewers of the Biden-Harris campaign, explaining that it ‘flourishes with strong typography, featuring a subtle reference to the three lines folks know and love from the original Biden-Harris campaign logo.’ Studio Mosaic is also working on the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign, which features an almost identical logo.”

In addition, Sen. Cruz argues that this guidance violates both the First Amendment and the Hatch Act.

“...conditioning federal grant money on recipients’ willingness to showcase a political sign endorsing President Biden raises serious ethical and First Amendment concerns.

“...because the Biden administration is requiring funding recipients to adopt, as their own, the administration’s view that President Biden deserves another term, the signage funding condition necessarily affects protected conduct outside of the scope of the various funding programs. The administration’s signage scheme therefore runs afoul of the First Amendment.

“In addition, the administration’s signage requirements appear to violate the Hatch Act, which ensures that ‘federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion.’

“...the law prohibits executive branch employees, defined broadly, from conditioning public funds on political activity. Specifically, an employee may not ‘knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of any person who has an application for any compensation, grant, contract, ruling, license, permit, or certificate pending before the employing office of such employee.’

“Furthermore, it is illegal for an employee to use ‘his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President’ in connection with any activity financed by federal grants.”

Sen. Cruz concluded by asking the Special Counsel to investigate the administration’s use of this branding and coordinate appropriately with the Department of Justice to preserve the ability to prosecute any criminal Hatch Act violations.

Read full letter HERE.