The Office of Special Counsel recommended Thursday that Kellyanne Conway be fired from the federal government for violating the Hatch Act on “numerous occasions.”
The Hatch Act is a federal law that limits certain political activities of federal employees.
The OSC, which is separate from the office with a similar name previously run by Robert Mueller, said in a report released Thursday that White House Counselor Conway violated the Hatch Act by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law,” the OSC said in a statement Thursday, noting that Conway has been a “repeat offender.”
The law’s purpose is to ensure federal programs are “administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation,” according to the OSC. The office is an independent federal agency that monitors compliance with that law and others.
The White House on Thursday blasted the OSC ruling as “unprecedented.”
“The Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process. 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,” deputy press secretary Steven Groves said in a statement Thursday. “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, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”