U of M Law Professor Files Complaint Against FBI Director Comey

Professor Richard Painter Claims Comey Violated the Hatch Act

Minneapolis, MN – A University of Minnesota Law School Professor has filed a complaint against FBI Director James Comey, calling his choice to re-open the Clinton email investigation an “abuse of power.”

In a New York Times op-ed Professor Richard W. Painter claims Comey attempted to influence the election by re-opening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before the election.

“It would be highly improper, and an abuse of power, for the F.B.I. to conduct such an investigation in the public eye, particularly on the eve of the election,” Painter writes.

Painter claims Comey’s decision to go public with the investigation was a violation of the Hatch Act, a law which prevents federal employees from having any influence in an election. Instead of alerting Congress of the re-opening of the investigation, Painter believes Comey should have kept the investigation confidential until after the election.

Comey didn’t have to specifically intend to influence the election to still find himself in violation of the law. The Hatch Act would be violated “if it is obvious that the official’s actions could influence the election, there is no other good reason for taking those actions, and the official is acting under pressure from persons who obviously do want to influence the election.”

Professor Painter, however, implies throughout the op-ed that he believes Director Comey did in fact knowingly try to sway the outcome of the election for Donald Trump.

“Also concerning is the fact that Mr. Comey already made unusual public statements expressing his opinion about Mrs. Clinton’s actions, calling her handling of classified information “extremely careless,” when he announced this summer that the F.B.I. was concluding its investigation of her email without filing any charges,” writes Painter.

The law professor and former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush also includes a preposterous hypothetical situation that alludes to Donald Trump encouraging Russians to hack DNC emails, and the FBI handles the situation fairly.

Painter has filed his complaints with the Office of Special Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics. He is not alone in his assertions. Former Sen. Harry Reid wrote a letter to Director Comey also accusing him of violating the Hatch Act.

The Justice Department has recently opened a review of Director Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.