The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent agency separate from the Justice Department office formerly operated by Robert Mueller, released a report on Thursday that says senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway should be removed from Federal Office for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act’s purpose is to ensure Federal programs are “administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation,”
The OSC sent a report to the President that called Conway a “repeat offender” and said “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all Federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law.” The report says Conway violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions by “disparaging democratic presidential candidates” during TV interviews and on social media while speaking in her official capacity.
This report is a follow up to a similar report released in March 2018 where the OSC found Kellyanne had violated the act during two television interviews where she advocated “for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.” The OSC provides several other examples including when she called Joe Biden’s presidential campaign announcement video “very dark and spooky.” and described Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders as “two old white straight men career politicians.” She also slammed Cory Booker, D-N.J., for sounding “like a Hallmark card,” re-tweeted a Twitter post that referred to Biden as “Creepy Uncle Joe.”
the OSC wrote that Conway had “substantial knowledge of the Hatch Act” and called her laundry list of violations “egregious, notorious, and ongoing.”
The report also includes quotes from Conway after she was asked about the Hatch Act in a May 2019 interview. “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work” she said to the media “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
The OSC rarely, if ever, makes these kinds of statements or recommendations, and the White House was quick to fire back in a press release from Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves, saying the agency was taking “unprecedented actions” that violate Conway’s “constitutional rights” and, echoing Conway’s earlier statements, accused OSC of attempting to “weaponize” the Hatch Act.
The White House also called the OSC’s motivations into question, claiming their decisions were “influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations.”
CNBC White House Correspondent Eamon Javers asked Conway for a statement on the recent report and she responded “I have no reaction. Why would I give you a reaction?”
Despite the OSC’s recommendations, The White House is highly unlikely to remove Conway from office and is currently painting this as a political attack.