Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A watchdog group called for an investigation Wednesday into political contributions made to interim U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, saying they may have violated federal law.
American Oversight, which identifies itself as "a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog," submitted the complaint to the Office of Special Counsel, saying it should investigate to see if Whitaker violated the Hatch Act by taking the contributions.
The complaint suggests Whitaker received them while serving as a federal employee. The 1939 federal law limits certain political actions of federal employees, saying they may not "knowingly solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution from any person."
The contributions were found in recent financial disclosure forms, the group said.
Whitaker was a candidate in Iowa's Republican Senate contest in 2014, and Federal Election Commission reports indicate his campaign committee is still active. It received four contributions totaling $8,800 this year and rented office space in his former law firm.
Whitaker is the only creditor of the campaign, and a personal loan of over $49,000 to the campaign has not been repaid, American Oversight said.
The contributions this year were made after Whitaker joined the Justice Department as chief of staff for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The money, some from former lobbying clients, appear to be designed either for Whitaker's benefit or to help fund future political activity, the watchdog said.
"If the 2018 contributions were made to retire that debt, the money would benefit Whitaker personally, raising serious concerns about the potential for improper political influence on the nation's top law enforcement official," it said in a statement.