Republican nominee Donald Trump duped a group of on-duty Phoenix Police officers into appearing in a campaign commercial. Trump’s exploitation of a moment shaking hands with the officers in uniform led to the Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton saying, “The letter speaks very strongly for itself. The Trump campaign should cease and desist immediately.” City attorney Brad Holm wrote the following to the Republican campaign:
Phoenix has not approved – and will not approve – the creation or use of any media bearing the faces and likenesses of its on-duty police officers in any political advertisement for any political candidate. The officers were unaware that they were being photographed and videotaped, and they did not consent to the use of their on-duty images in any Trump (or other) campaign advertisement. The officers in the ad were in uniform precisely because they were on duty performing work for Phoenix at that time.
More importantly for those Phoenix officers, they themselves have to avoid appearing political because of the Hatch Act. It’s a federal law prohibiting government employees from participating in partisan political activities when their jobs receive federal funds or have a significant federal component, which covers many police officers across America.
It’s yet another very public mishap by the Trump campaign, stealing the free labor of the police officers, instead doing things the right way and paying actors to portray officers in his political advertising – or seeking a photo release from the Phoenix Police before publishing and playing the advertisement. But it’s very much par for the course of the Republican nominee’s sloppy behavior, and his all encompassing, callous disregard for the rights or concerns of anyone but himself.
Sadly, Donald Trump may have stirred up a federal investigation against a large group of police officers just doing their jobs – by the candidate who constantly claims to support the police – by stealing their likenesses for his political campaign entirely without their permission.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.