- The federal agency that enforces the Hatch Act found that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the law on "numerous occasions" while serving in her official capacity as President Donald Trump’s White House adviser.
- The US Office of Special Counsel said Conway did so by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates" while appearing in her role as White House counselor "during television interviews and on social media."
- The watchdog said that given that Conway is a "repeat offender" who has "shown disregard for the law," she should be removed from federal office.
- The White House has final say on whether Conway will be removed, and it released a statement standing by her and calling the OSC’s decision "deeply flawed."
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The US Office of Special Counsel determined that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act and recommended that she be "removed from federal service."
In a letter to President Donald Trump, the OSC — the federal agency that enforces the Hatch Act — found that Conway broke the law "on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media."
The Hatch Act of 1973 is a federal statute that prevents most federal employees, with some exceptions, from engaging in political activity while working in their official roles.
"Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act," the agency said in a statement, "employees of the White House are not. OSC’s letter to the President accompanying the report refers to Ms. Conway as a ‘repeat offender’ and states: ‘Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law.’"
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The OSC’s statement noted that its report on Thursday follows a March 2018 report that found Conway violated the Hatch Act during two separate television interviews. At the time, the office concluded she "advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for US Senate."
The agency also said Conway "downplayed" the significance of the Hatch Act during an interview last month. Asked about the law, Conway said, "If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work."
She added: "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."
The White House is standing by Conway
In light of Conway’s comments and the fact that she is a "repeat offender" who has "shown disregard for the law," the OSC recommended that she be removed from federal office.
The White House released a statement on the OSC’s findings, saying its actions were "unprecedented" and "deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process."
The statement continued that the agency’s decision was "influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations — and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act."
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