A federal watchdog agency Thursday recommended firing senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for violating the law by making partisan public statements in her official capacity.
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. The OSC cited Conway’s comments about Democratic presidential candidates and remarks she made during the 2017 Alabama special election.
“Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service,” reads the office’s statement.
The watchdog agency cannot bring criminal charges but can recommend firing or a reprimand by the president. According to The Hill, the OSC has never before recommended firing a White House official over Hatch Act violations.
Conway refused to comment on the OSC decision, telling a reporter: “I have no reaction. Why would I give you a reaction?”
In March 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.”
Despite having a similar name, the OSC is not part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 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.
New: White House rejects OSC's recommendation that Trump fire Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations, saying their findings are "deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process" https://t.co/icghj1ZXNj pic.twitter.com/IPNvdKGzTH— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) June 13, 2019
Steven Groves, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement that OSC’s actions against Conway are “deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights.” Groves accused OSC of making a partisan decision to attack Conway.
“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,” Groves said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement Thursday that Trump should fire Conway for violating the Hatch Act. Cummings announced that his committee will hold a hearing June 26 with officials from the OSC. Conway is invited to “answer for her violations.”
“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,” Cummings said.
Read more from Yahoo News: