On Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the White House that counselor Kellyanne Conway was found violating the Hatch Act on two separate occasions.
Conway endorsed and spoke against political candidates, the OSC stated. The group shared its findings with President Trump who will determine “appropriate disciplinary action.”
Both of the violations occurred during televised appearances in 2017. One of the violations happened on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” while the other happened on CNN’s “New Day.”
“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 said 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,” the report continued.
The report emphasizes that the White House’ special counselor had certainly received “significant training” on the Hatch Act and what constitutes a violation. The OSC also said that it gave Conway the opportunity to respond as part of the report, but she failed to.
The White House has rejected the report’s findings and argued that “Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate.”
“In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gildley said.
Prior to the special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, Conway publicly criticized then-candidate Doug Jones during an appearance on Fox. She argued that Jones was “weak on crime” and “weak on borders,” before declining to specifically endorse Moore when asked.
“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway had said.
“So, vote Roy Moore?” host Brian Kilmeade asked.
“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway responded.
During her CNN appearance, Conway stated that Trump didn’t want “a liberal Democrat representing Alabama” in the Senate.
“The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s,” Conway stated on the show. “And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”
While the former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub called the comments a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act, others, like White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, rushed to defended Conway.
It is up to the president to decide how to handle the reported violations.
H/T: The Hill