Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act when she opposed the candidacy of Roy Moore's Senate opponent while appearing on television in an official capacity, according to a government watchdog agency.
The TV appearances in question are a November 20 appearance on Fox & Friends in which Conway spoke out against Doug Jones, the Democratic opponent of accused child molester Moore, and a December 6 appearance on New Day when she did the same. Conway's offense? Expressing her preference for one candidate over another in Alabama's special senate election. In both interviews, Conway was introduced as "counselor to President Trump" and touched on similar points, including Jones' positions on taxes and "border security". He is weak on crime. "He's strong on raising your taxes". "He is bad for property owners". A White House spokesperson says Conway didn't advocate for or against a particular candidate during her TV appearances. The report states that Conway in these interviews lobbied against Democrat Doug Jones and for Republican Roy Moore.
The Office of Special Counsel found that the White House reasoning "lacks merit", adding that Conway's comments went beyond commentary. He'll be a vote against tax cuts.
Prior to Conway, the OSC issued a warning to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for retweeting Trump's endorsement of Republican congressional candidate Ralph Norman in South Carolina-a state the ambassador presided over as governor. The White House denied this.
Conway also came under scrutiny for endorsing the fashion line of the president's daughter Ivanka Trump during a February 2017 interview.
Conway is far from the first person in a high-profile role to violate the Hatch Act.
Kerner's report details the training Conway received on the Hatch Act well ahead of those interviews, both in group and individual sessions, in addition to receiving guidance on two instances between her appearances on Fox News and CNN.
"It's very disturbing that the White House chief of staff is going to let White House lawyers say the Hatch Act means something entirely different than what the agency charged with enforcing the Hatch Act says it means", Painter told Business Insider.
"We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again", Passantino wrote. "The willfulness of Conway's violation makes clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part", the Campaign Legal Center said in a release Tuesday.
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