The Office of Special Counsel issued a report today in which it concluded that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions in her capacity as a federal employee. The White House, however, does not agree with the conclusions of the report.
According to the OSC report, Conway was in violation of the Hatch Act by advocating for defeat of Democrat Doug Jones and expressing support for Republican Roy Moore in the December 2017 Alabama Senate special election during television interviews on November 20 and December 6, 2017.
“During both interviews, she impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election,” wrote Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner.
According to the OSC report, in one interview on Fox and Friends, Conway made the following statement about Democratic candidate Doug Jones:
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 …. And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.
The report then says that host Brian Kilmeade asked her, “[s]o vote Roy Moore?” She then responded by saying, “I’m telling you that we want the votes in– in– in the Senate to get this tax– this tax bill through …. Let me tell you something this guy Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal.”
Regarding her responses in this particular interview, the OSC report said:
Ms. Conway’s introduction of Doug Jones into the interview was unprompted, unresponsive to the question asked by the Fox & Friends host, and surprising given that she knew the four identified interview topics did not include Doug Jones, Roy Moore, or the Alabama special election. Her intentional partisan jabs against Doug Jones were made in her official capacity and meant to persuade voters not to support him in the Alabama special election.
The report notes that Conway had “significant knowledge” of the Hatch Act prior to both interviews from guidance that was provided to her.
OSC says in the report that it is referring the matter to President Trump for “appropriate disciplinary action.”
White House Response
The White House, however, said that Conway did not violate the Hatch Act. In a statement issued today regarding OSC’s report, deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said:
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.
A copy of the OSC report is included below.