The firing of Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump's most loyal and longest-serving top White House aides, was recommended on Thursday by an internal government watchdog who said her blatant and repeated violation of the Hatch Act—which bars government employees from making political statements while operating in their official capacities—made a mockery of the statute.
"It need not be jail, as Conway has belittlingly said, but get her out of the White House."
—Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen
According to CBS News, "The Office of the Special Counsel—the ethics office for the White House, which is unrelated to former special counsel Robert Mueller—sent a report to the president Thursday finding that Conway had violated the act 'on numerous occasions' by criticizing Democratic presidential candidates in TV interviews and on social media. While the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, that privilege does not extend to federal employees."
In the letter sent to Trump by the OCS, Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner stated that "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. Her actions erode the principle foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law."
The OSC probe into Conway's comments and behavior came in response to a pair of complaints filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in October 2018 and May 2019. In a statement on Thursday, CREW's executive director Noah Bookbinder said he was glad to see the OSC take such a forceful position on the violations.
"Conway's repeated violations and publicly expressed disdain for the law show a dangerous disregard for governmental ethics, the rule of law and the long-held understanding that government officials should not use their official positions to advance partisan politics," Bookbinder said. "We join OSC in calling for Kellyanne Conway to be removed from federal service and expect today's findings to send a strong message to officials across the Trump Administration and the federal government that these violations will not be taken lightly."
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.@CREWcrew filed multiple complaints detailing Kellyanne Conway's violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits use of official positions for politics. Conway publicly scoffed at the law. The office that enforces it is now recommending she be removed from federal employment. https://t.co/RaJfuHcjZD— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) June 13, 2019
The advocacy group Public Citizen was also among those to quickly endorse Kerner's recommendation that Conway be dismissed.
"The OSC has stepped up and made crystal clear the inappropriate nature of a White House employee defying the law in plain sight," said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for the group, in a statement. "Conway must be removed and face consequences for her actions."
Conway, Gilbert added, "is making a mockery of our laws and is taunting those who are charged with enforcing standards of conduct for federal employees, and so should face appropriate legal consequences. It need not be jail, as Conway has belittlingly said, but get her out of the White House."