Kellyanne Conway broke law during Alabama election, says watchdog

The White House aide violated federal law by advocating for Roy Moore, according to US Office of Special Counsel

The White House aide Kellyanne Conway violated federal law on at least two occasions last year by “advocating for and against candidates” from her official position as counselor to the US president, according to a federal watchdog.

The determination was made by the US Office of Special Counsel on Tuesday, and relates to comments Conway made during the Alabama special election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones to fill the seat vacated by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. OSC is not related to the ongoing special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into the Trump administration.

According to the OSC, in TV appearances on 20 November and 6 December, 2017, Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about the candidates in the Alabama special election”, violating the Hatch Act.

The act, first passed in 1939, prohibits almost all federal employees in the executive branch from engaging in most forms of partisan political activity.

During the first appearance, on Fox, Conway slammed Jones as “weak on crime, weak on borders … strong on raising your taxes” and as “terrible for property owners”.

Then, on 4 December, the Office of White House Counsel sent an email to Conway and other White House Office employees reminding them of Hatch act restrictions.

“You may not use your official position to affect the result of an election. You may not, for example, use your official title when participating in any political activities,” the email read in part, according to the OSC.

Two days later, on CNN, Conway again seemed to advocate for Moore and against Jones to viewers, including potential Alabama voters. Jones won the election in a rare victory for Alabama Democrats.

The OSC requested in a letter to Donald Trump that he consider “appropriate disciplinary actions”.

Hogan Gidley, White House deputy press secretary, said on Tuesday:

“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. 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.”

Contributors

Jamiles Lartey and Ben Jacobs

The GuardianTramp

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