UPDATE: The campaign ad has been removed from YouTube.
President Donald Trump’s new campaign commercial that focuses on America’s space program has spurred anger and might have broken the law by featuring NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon last week.
Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver tweeted:
Total politicization of @NASA, Bob, Doug & @SpaceX. Did they want to be used in a Trump campaign ad? Are these FEC [Federal Election Commission] & Hatch Act violations? “We are Americans & the future belongs totally to us” Really? Space should be healing, not dividing!
The Hatch Act limits the ability of federal employees to become involved in political activities. Behnken and Hurley are government employees because they work for NASA.
Hurley’s wife, former astronaut Karen Nyberg, is featured in the ad watching her husband and Behnken lift off aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster on Saturday. She tweeted:
NASA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans. A petition titled, Stop Donald Trump politicizing SpaceX and NASA accomplishments, has been posted on Change.org.