A government agency opened an investigation into donations made to acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker’s failed 2014 Senate campaign after he was employed by the Justice Department, CNN reports. The Office of the Special Counsel, a separate entity than Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, confirmed to the network they have opened a case file into the $8,800 worth of donations to investigate whether Whitaker violated the Hatch Act—which reportedly “prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions.” The donations were reportedly donated to the committee, which is still active, earlier this year, when Whitaker was serving as then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff. William Gustoff, Whitaker’s campaign treasurer, said that neither he nor Whitaker solicited any of the donations. Gustoff also said the campaign committee remained active because it still owes about $49,000 to Whitaker, who loaned his campaign $50,000 in 2013. While the Office of the Special Counsel can probe potential Hatch Act violations and “recommend discipline,” it reportedly cannot take direct “disciplinary action.” The Justice Department declined to comment, and Whitaker did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
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