U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley received a scolding from a government investigator who concluded her retweet of President Donald Trump was political speak.

Under the federal Hatch Act, federal employees — including ambassadors to the United Nations — can't use their position to deliver partisan messages, including via Twitter, one of Haley's favorite methods of communication.

She received a warning letter of reprimand from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel as a result.

The offending tweet Trump issued came June 19 in support of Republican Ralph Norman for Congress in a South Carolina special election.

Trump's original tweet began "Ralph Norman, who is running for Congress in SC's 5th District, will be a fantastic help to me in cutting taxes and ..."

Haley, a Norman backer, retweeted the message from her main Twitter account @nikkihaley, which identifies her as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Her site features a government headshot of her and also a photograph of Haley with Trump and other members of the U.N. Security Council in a room at the White House.

The tweet was dubbed a political message that could have interfered with an election.

"It gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity when she used this account to retweet President Trump's message," The OSC said in issuing Haley a warning.

Doing it again will be considered “a willful and knowing violation of the law, which could result in further action.” 

Otherwise the case is concluded, the office said.

"Once Ambassador Haley became aware that her retweet may have violated the Hatch Act, she deleted the post," said the letter from Erica Hamrick, deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit.

Haley has been a prolific user of social media, including when she was South Carolina's governor, using the outlet to send out congratulations and to comment on world affairs and family matters alike.

There was no mention of her receiving the warning on her Twitter account after it was issued last week. 

The complaint was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 

A CREW spokesman said the issue is not simply pointing out Haley's conduct but raising the larger concern about a pattern of Hatch Act violations that CREW has found coming out of the Trump administration.

“This is already the third time this year that a senior Trump official has been reprimanded for misusing their official position following a CREW complaint,” Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Ambassador Haley should have known better.”

In April, the OSC singled out White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. for tweeting that Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, should be defeated in the next primary.

Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was also warned following an ethics regulation violation when she spoke positively of First Daughter Ivanka Trump's fashion products.

“One is unfortunate, two is a coincidence, but three in less than a year is a pattern,” Bookbinder said. “This all stems from the president’s permissive attitude toward ethics; the tone is set at the top.”

In the special election, Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell to fill the vacancy created when Mick Mulvaney was appointed Trump's budget director.

The Hatch Act does not cover the political speech of the president or vice president since they are elected positions, meaning Trump was free to say what he wished.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.