Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg came under fire this week after his department shared a meme that some experts say may have broken the law.
As The Daily Wire reported Sunday, an official Twitter account belonging to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) shared an image Friday featuring a man and a woman texting one another.
When the woman asks what the man is thinking about, he responds by touting the supposed benefits of President Joe Biden’s recently passed infrastructure package as well as his Build Back Better deal, which is still being negotiated on Capitol Hill.
“I’m thinking about how the new infrastructure law is going to make getting from place to place so much better over the next decade and how when combined with the Build Back Better Act, it will create millions of new jobs,” the male character in the image says.
Debate over meme
In the meme, the female character then responds by declaring that she, too, believes the president’s legislative agenda will have a positive economic impact.
Biden’s Transporation Department captioned the image with a set of celebratory emojis.
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) November 26, 2021
But while it may seem harmless on its face, Chuck DeVore, who works with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Election Protection Project, has cautioned that the DOT’s message could run afoul of federal law.
“This appears to be lobbying,” DeVore wrote in a tweet shared by The Daily Wire. “I didn’t think federal agencies were allowed to be so blatant in promoting specific legislation. The Secretary of Transportation can, of course, but the DOT’s official website? Seems unusual.”
Indeed, Fox News noted in a report of its own that federal agencies and employees are banned “from ‘lobbying’ the Congress or the public in favor of legislation that is pending in Congress.” It remains unclear “if the tweet from the Department of Transportation violates that law,” Fox said.
Regardless of whether the tweet proves to be illegal, many Twitter users reacted negatively to it, with some, including GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s national security adviser Omri Ceren, calling the message “cringey,” as The Daily Wire reported.
A lot of you are dunking about how cringey this tweet is, and totally running past how the meme is almost hilariously The Left Can’t Meme awful. https://t.co/2DpctXCxZS
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) November 27, 2021