Federal Watchdog Calls for Firing of Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway talks with reporters outside the White House on April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A government watchdog agency said Thursday that top White House aide Kellyanne Conway should be fired for numerous violations of the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities of federal employees working in the executive branch.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel made the recommendation in a report calling Conway a “repeater offender” of the law for attacking Democratic presidential candidates on TV and social media while acting in her job as a counselor to President Donald Trump.

OSC is currently run by Trump-appointed lawyer Henry Kerner. It is not related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which was tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Like with other presidential appointees, the President has the authority to discipline Ms. Conway for violating the Hatch Act,” OSC said in a statement Thursday morning. “Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service.”

Among the more recent incidents cited as cause for the recommendation by the OSC was Conway’s May 29 comment to an interviewer, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work.”

Conway also told the interviewer:  “Let me know when the jail sentence starts,” according to the report.

Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, agreed with the OSC’s findings, saying in a statement Thursday: “Ms. Conway, while maintaining her position in the White House, represents the administration. It’s untenable for a senior counselor to the president to decide that civil law is no longer something she is bound by. No one is above the law.”

But White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves defended Conway.

“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. Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, nonpolitical manner and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act,” Groves said.

Conway could not immediately be reached for comment, but the White House counselor told CNBC she had “no reaction” to the report.

“Why would I give you a reaction?” Conway reportedly told CNBC journalist Eamon Javers during a run-in at the White House press office Thursday afternoon.

Conway’s husband, George Conway, declined to comment.

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