Political Speech

Federal Agency Accuses Kellyanne Conway of Violating Hatch Act

Kellyanne Conway
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks with the news media after giving an interview to Fox News outside of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, has been accused of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in campaign politics at work.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recommended that Trump fire Conway for being a “repeat offender” of the Act.

“As a highly visible member of the administration, Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” said the letter to the president. “Her actions erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law.”

At the heart of the accusation are Conway’s recent comments about Democratic presidential candidates in television interviews and on social media.

The Trump administration rejected the OSC’s ruling on the grounds that it violates Conway’s right to free speech and due process, and demanded the agency to withdraw the report.

“OSC’s overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway’s First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees,” Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, wrote in a memo released by the White House.

While the OSC can make recommendations but can’t enforce them, some Democrats are pledging to step into the breach.

“Complying with the law is not optional. President Trump should terminate Ms. Conway’s employment immediately in light of these dozens of violations of federal law,” Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Reform Committee, told Reuters.

Cummings says he will hold a hearing with the OSC on June 26, and invite Conway to “answer for her violations.”

Reuters The New York Times White House memo