The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a report to President Donald Trump stating that longtime adviser to the president Kellyanne Conway twice violated the Hatch Act by making political statements as a White House official about candidates during an election.
The violations came in the run-up to the Alabama special election. In two interviews she gave while acting in an official capacity as a presidential adviser, Conway lobbied against then-candidate Doug Jones.
In an interview on Fox News, where she spoke from the White House grounds, Conway said “Folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He’s weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners.”
The Hatch Act bars government officials from using the authority of their office to influence elections. In a letter from the Office of Special Counsel, which recommended appropriate discipline be made, the office determined Conway was aware that statements like the ones she made could violate the Hatch Act.
In response, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that Conway was actually complying with the Hatch Act.
“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. She simply expressed the President’s obvious position that he have people in the House and Senate who support his agenda. In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act—as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican.”
This is not the first time Conway has run afoul of ethics watchdogs. At the onset of the administration, she was accused of violating federal law by lobbying for people to buy from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line while in the White House Briefing Room.
Conway was not punished for that action after the White House determined she’d acted “inadvertently.”