According to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), White House adviser Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, The Hill reports.
The OSC found that while she functioned as a chief counselor to President Trump, Conway both endorsed and advocated against various political candidates. The watchdog group’ findings were brought to the Trump administration for “appropriate disciplinary action.”
The Hatch Act is a federal law that prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, “except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials,” from engaging in various forms of political activity.
As The Hill reports, Conway’s violation of the federal law took place during two 2017 cable news appearances, one on CNN’s New Day and the other on Fox News’s Fox & Friends.
Hatch Act violations committed by White House staff are typically handled directly by the president. Consequences for violating the law range from an official reprimand to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Other penalties include suspension, termination or even debarment from federal employment for up to five years.
“While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections,” the OSC wrote in its report. “Ms. Conway’s statements during the ‘Fox & Friends’ and ‘New Day’ interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”
In the run-up to last year’s controversial special election for the Alabama Senate, Conway made disparaging remarks targeting Democrat Doug Jones who was running against the now-disgraced Republican Roy Moore, saying a week before the vote that the “only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s.”
“He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes,” she said, speaking of Moore. “He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”
Conway’s comments were flagged by former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, who said her words were a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act.
“The willfulness of Conway’s violation and her openly expressed disdain for efforts to hold her accountable for complying with ethics requirements make clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part,” Shaub said.
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