A Secret Service agent, Kerry O’Grady, came under fire after posting on her personal Facebook page a statement declaring she would prefer jail time to taking a bullet for President Trump.
Freedom of speech is one of the foundational rights upon which America was founded. Protected in the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment protects Americans’ rights to express their opinions and beliefs without the government interfering or proscribing said speech.
As time has gone by, various acts by both Congress and the Supreme Court have abridged what is covered by freedom of speech. One of these, the Hatch Act, contains injunctions prohibiting involvement in certain political activities by certain members of the government. The Secret Service is one of the entities covered by the Hatch Act.
The issue with the Secret Service agent’s behavior is not that she exercised freedom of speech or disapproved of Donald Trump, but rather the method and language she used in her post.
“As a public servant for nearly 23 years, I struggle not to violate the Hatch Act. So I keep quiet and skirt the median,” reports the Washington Examiner.
“To do otherwise can be a criminal offense for those in my position. Despite the fact that I am expected to take a bullet for both sides.”
“But this world has changed and I have changed. And I would take jail time over a bullet or an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here. Hatch Act be damned. I am with Her.”
For those unfamiliar with the Hatch Act, O’Grady’s claim to prefer jail to protecting the president includes a significant bit of hyperbole. According to the Office of Special Counsel’s pamphlet on the act,
“An employee who violates the Hatch Act is subject to a range of disciplinary actions, including removal from federal service, reduction in grade, debarment from federal service for a period not to exceed 5 years, suspension, letter of reprimand, or a civil penalty not to exceed $1000.”
Since the kerfuffle over her postings, of which there have been several critical of the Trump administration both before and after the election, many of these posts have since been removed from Kerry’s page.
While passions are high after Donald Trump’s election and ascension to POTUS, the main issue with Kerry O’Grady’s postings is the potential perception of a lack of professionalism within the ranks of the Secret Service agency.
When people think of the Secret Service, they imagine an organization of individuals who dedicate themselves to the protection of the American government (the individuals and their families who rule the nation). People picture a group of selfless agents who put aside their political differences for the greater good. This perception is key to the USSS ability to protect all the major political factions.
If that perception is eroded, and comments such as Kerry’s will do this, the Secret Service will be less effective as a defensive mechanism. In an administration already suspicious of the legitimacy of the election (and also suspected by some of the populace), any demonizing of President Donald Trump’s protective detail can potentially create destabilizing ripple effects.
“Despite her senior security role, she has made her disdain for Trump and his incoming administration clear to her Facebook followers, who included current and former Secret Service agents and other people who were employees at the time of the posts. O’Grady’s posts triggered at least one complaint to the office that oversees investigations into Secret Service misbehavior, two knowledgeable sources told the Washington Examiner.”
So what are your thoughts on Kerry O’Grady’s social media posts? Is she a rogue agent who should be dismissed immediately? Or she simply an American citizen exercising her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]