The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a scathing report that recommended the removal of Kellyanne Conway from office for multiple violations of the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government from engaging in some forms of political activity.
The OSC, tasked with enforcing the Act, said President Trump’s White House Counselor committed multiple violations by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”
The agency noted that Conway was a “repeat offender” and recommended her “removal from federal service.”
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) June 13, 2019
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” a statement from the OSC reads.
Which is laughable, since multiple offenders within the Obama administration committed violations which were ‘left unpunished.’
White House Fires Back
The White House wasn’t about the sit back and accept the findings, correctly stating that the OSC statement was “unprecedented” and politically influenced.
Deputy press secretary Steven Groves issued his own statement alleging that these “unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process.”
He added, “Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC’s unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees.”
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone submitted a letter to the OSC referring to the calls for Conway’s firing “outrageous.”
A few pages from White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to OSC regarding Kellyanne Conway and the Hatch Act: pic.twitter.com/cwIFDsNSo5
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) June 13, 2019
Cipollone claims the OSC’s findings are “based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors.”
The White House is correct in calling out the OSC for making an unprecedented recommendation of this nature. Just look at the history of Obama-era violations that went unpunished.
Obama’s HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Act in 2012.
Obama’s Secretary of Labor in 2014, Hilda Solis, was blatantly caught violating the Hatch Act when she was recorded soliciting funds for his re-election campaign while on the taxpayer’s dime.
In March of 2015, press secretary to Barack Obama, Josh Earnest, revealed that he had been in touch with aides to then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Which would seem like an admission from someone engaging in political activity in his official capacity.
A Yahoo News report at the time said the administration was trying to “stay inside what can be blurry legal lines” by communicating in such a fashion.
Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, now a 2020 presidential candidate, was accused of violating the Hatch Act in 2016 after he praised Clinton in an interview at his government office.
Last November, the OSC had to issue guidelines for federal employees engaged in ‘resistance‘ activities against President Trump while on the job.
Did the OSC issue a public call for dismissal for Sebelius, Earnest, Solis, Castro, or the resistance? Of course not. The White House would do well to ignore this transparent attempt at disparaging Conway for political reasons.
“If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” Conway said in May when asked about accusations that she violated it. “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”