Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act twice, but what happens now?

Everything is up to the president, who will decide what happens to one of his remaining original staffers

Published March 6, 2018 1:52PM (EST)

Kellyanne Conway (AP/John Minchillo)
Kellyanne Conway (AP/John Minchillo)

Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to President Donald Trump, violated the Hatch Act twice "by advocating for and against candidates" in Alabama's special election last December, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said in a letter to the president on Tuesday.

Despite OSC Special Counsel Henry Kerner having recommended "appropriate disciplinary action" for Conway, the president is unlikely to do much about the violations.

According to Kerner, in two television appearances on Fox News and CNN, Conway "impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election."

During her "Fox & Friends" appearance on Nov. 20, Conway blasted then-Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones.

"Folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts. He's weak on crime, weak on borders," she said. "He's strong on raising your taxes. He's terrible for property owners."

In her "New Day" appearance on CNN, she once again took shots at Jones and described him as "against border security," "against the Second Amendment" and "against life."

Violations of the Hatch Act occur when someone in an official government position uses their influence to advocate "for partisan political purposes," which includes "influencing elections."

It's no surprise that Conway, or someone within the Trump administration, used their government position for partisan influence. Indeed, it's a surprise that the Hatch Act wasn't violated sooner. After all, this is the same Conway who, last year, openly promoted merchandise from Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

If Trump opts to do nothing and Conway faces no consequences, the president will be sending a direct message to the public that he doesn't take law and order as seriously as he has claimed in the past, and that it doesn't matter if his administration officials misuse their power to achieve partisan victories. Especially when it comes to a repeat offender. That has former Obama ethics czar Norm Eisen seething.

"Make no mistake about it, if Trump does not fire Kellyanne Conway after THREE Hatch Act violations another redline will be crossed," Eisen wrote on Twitter. "He will be saying breaking the law does not matter--I will pardon away any sins. Well, it does matter, & the American people will not tolerate it."


By Charlie May

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Hatch Act Kellyanne Conway President Donald Trump Trump Administration White House