White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has been accused of violating the Hatch Act. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
June 13 (UPI) -- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be removed from her position because she violated the Hatch Act by campaigning against Democratic presidential candidates, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Thursday.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their office to campaign for or against political candidates. Only the president and vice president are exempt. The OSC is an independent government agency that enforces the Hatch Act.
The special counsel cites television interviews and social media posts as evidence that Conway violated the act. The office sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that she be removed from the administration.
"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," the letter reads. "Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system -- the rule of law."
Counsel to the president Pat Cipollone responded to the letter, saying the OSC's accusations are "based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors." Cipollone said it's an unfair process that was "tainted by inappropriate external influences."
"OSC's overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway's First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees," Cipollone said. "OSC's overreaching recommendation is wholly unsupported by any statute or the Constitution."
He called the accusations outrageous and unprecedented and said they weren't applied evenly across Democratic and Republican presidencies.
The report states that Conway did two interviews in 2017 in which she advocated for and against candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.
She has remained defiant throughout the special counsel investigation and has declined to respond, the OSC's letter said.
"Never has OSC had to issue multiple reports to the president concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual," the letter reads. "Ms. Conway's actions and statements stand in stark contrast to the culture of compliance promised by your White House counsel and undermine your efforts to create and enforce such a culture."
When asked about the accusations, Conway downplayed the significance of the laws as they apply to her.
"Blah, blah blah. If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," Conway said in a May 29 interview. "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."
In November, the OSC found six Trump administration officials had potentially violated the Hatch Act after tweeting support for Trump or other Republican candidates from their government accounts.