In response to a Hatch Act complaint filed by CLC, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent a letter to President Donald Trump recommending that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway be removed from office.
The letter calls Conway’s repeated Hatch Act violations “egregious, notorious, and ongoing,” and says that “her actions erode the principle foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law.”
While OSC investigates Hatch Act violations, only the president can execute disciplinary action against a federal employee at Conway’s level.
Enforcement of the Hatch Act is important for our democracy because federal government employees are expected to be neutral and impartial public servants who serve all Americans.
Strict compliance is necessary to keep public servants’ partisan politics independent from the administration of federal programs, and to ensure officials do not use their entrusted authority to affect the political process.
Executive branch employees are therefore permitted to privately express political opinions, but are prohibited from using their official authority to influence the result of an election. Now the ball is in the White House’s court. If the President fails to follow through on OSC’s recommendations, it sends a signal that there is one set of rules for average federal workers, and another set of rules for people close to the president.
Failure to enforce the Hatch Act at the highest levels of government also undermines public confidence in our government and rewards indifference toward the responsibilities of public service and the rule of law.
CLC has taken several actions to urge the enforcement of the Hatch Act.
Most recently, CLC filed a complaint against Conway with OSC on May 8 when Conway made partisan political remarks about the 2020 presidential election campaign in her official capacity: she discussed official topics alongside the partisan political attacks, and she was on White House property, with the White House and the executive office buildings clearly visible in the background.
Last year, following CLC’s complaints, OSC determined that Conway violated the Hatch Act by using interviews with Fox & Friends and CNN’s New Day to advocate against the election of a U.S. Senate candidate.