One of President Joe Biden's top officials endorsed a book in violation of federal law, the Washington Examiner reported. The watchdog group Protect the Public's Trust is considering filing a formal complaint.
The issue stems from a tweet Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for the Department of Homeland Security, posted and then deleted Tuesday. In it, she gushed over "Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency," a new book by Wired writer Andy Greenberg.
"This book was SOOO good," Easterly wrote in a post that included the book's cover art. "Thanks @a_greenberg for another highly compelling, entertaining, & illuminating read!"
The problem is that federal officials are strictly and expressly prohibited from doing so. "An employee's position or title should not be used to coerce; to endorse any product, service or enterprise; or to give the appearance of governmental sanction," the law states.
Protect the Public's Trust Director Michael Chamberlain believes this "was a pretty resounding endorsement of the book" and may warrant a formal complaint. As a former Department of Education official, Chamberlain was versed in this law and said Easterly should have known better.
"This restriction was really drilled into our heads when I served in government," Chamberlain said. "Obtaining the stamp of approval from an agency or prominent leader in the federal government would definitely deliver an unfair advantage," he added.
"It's more than a little ironic that someone in charge of policing the speech of Americans could be so careless with her own social media statements," Chamberlain went on. Easterly was previously employed with Morgan Stanley before joining CISA under Biden.
The subdivision of the DHS was a Trump-era creation meant to bolster cybersecurity for U.S. firms and government entities. The subject matter of Greenberg's book deals directly with many of Easterly's responsibilities.
Besides covering topics like money laundering and human trafficking, Greenberg's 2022 work also touches upon cryptocurrency in the context of illegal drugs. CISA oversees the cryptocurrency industry at home and abroad and has publicly advised consumers on the subject.
This does not help her cause, especially since her endorsement came from her official government Twitter. "Easterly's tweet appears to be a clear violation of ethics requirements," Pete McGinnis, spokesman for another watchdog group Functional Government Initiative, said.
"She actively promoted a product on a social media account where she lists her official government title," McGinnis pointed out. "Given how much time CISA spends monitoring what Americans post on Twitter, you'd think she'd be aware of these rules."
This scandal comes on the heels of a report in The Intercept revealing the nature of Easterly's job. Although the DHS scrapped the Disinformation Governance Board, it seems Easterly performs much of the same authoritarian function.
Easterly and her ilk are charged with scouring social media to root out so-called disinformation. However, critics believe it's an attempt to censor discourse that does not agree with the official government narrative on subjects like COVID-19.
Government overreach on social media is an ongoing issue that will continue to get more attention as the American people are informed about what's happening. The fact that Easterly could hold such a position and so flagrantly violate the law is proof that they're not afraid of any opposition -- and the implications are frightening.