TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A news conference by top officials from the Department of Homeland Security is drawing accusations that it was simply a campaign event for the Trump administration. That would be a violation of federal law.
The event took place in the Customs and Border Protection hangar at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, and featured the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli. A Blackhawk helicopter served as the backdrop, as Cuccinelli discussed progress against illegal immigration and smuggling. During at least four separate occasions, he credited President Donald Trump or the Trump administration.
"These are just a few examples of this president's unprecedented achievements on border security and immigration," said Cuccinelli.
It is illegal for federal executive branch employees to campaign or participate in campaigns while on the job, or to use federal government resources for it.
Later, during an interview with CBS 5 Investigates, Cuccinelli defended the event. "CBP and we have nothing to apologize for. This president has supported them to the hilt and they have truly responded and performed spectacularly and we have a lot to brag about here," said Cuccinelli.
But Grant Woods, who is Arizona's former Republican attorney general and a member of the Biden campaign, issued a stern condemnation of the event.
"I know Cuccinelli well and am not surprised. He knows it is unethical for him to use his office and the taxpayers’ money to campaign for Trump. But these people don’t think the rules apply to them. Hopefully they will be taught a lesson tomorrow," wrote Woods.
DHS officials recently held events in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, highlighting immigration enforcement achievements. Those states, together with Arizona, are considered swing states, crucial to President Trump's reelection bid.