On Thursday a federal watchdog agency recommended to the Trump Administration the firing of senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for violating the law by making partisan public statements in her official capacity.
The investigators in the Office of Special Counsel found that Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that prohibits federal employees from influencing elections. It was cited by the Office of Special Counsel that Conway’s comments about Democratic presidential candidates and remarks she made during the 2017 Alabama special election.
The official statement from the Office of Special Counsel reads, “Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service.”
Criminal charges cannot be brought by the federal watchdog agency, they can only recommend the firing or reprimanding by the president of an official. According to reports, the OSC has never before recommended firing a White House official over Hatch Act violations.
“I have no reaction. Why would I give you a reaction?” was the response given to a reporter by Conway, as she refused to comment on the OSC decision.
Back in March of 2018, the OSC announced that it determined Conway violated the Hatch Act the previous year in two television interviews when she advocated for Republican Roy Moore and against Democrat Doug Jones. Conway has also criticized Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in interviews on the White House driveway.
The “disregard” cited by the OSC refers to Conway’s comment during an interview on May 29. When asked about the Hatch Act, Conway dismissed the federal law.
“If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” she said during the interview. “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
The OSC is not part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, despite the close similarity in name. The OSC enforces federal law regarding improper conduct by federal employees. The White House was quick to defend Conway and reject OSC’s recommendation to fire her.
The Deputy White House press secretary, Steven Groves, stated that the OSC’s actions against Conway are “deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights.” He accused OSC of making a partisan decision to attack Conway. He went on to say, “Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations — and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, nonpolitical manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”
“Allowing Ms. Conway to continue her position of trust at the White House would demonstrate that the President is not interested in following the law—or requiring his closest aides to do so,” was the remarks of Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Cummings announced that his committee will hold a hearing June 26 with officials from the OSC. Conway is invited to “answer for her violations.”.