Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, violated the Hatch Act when she commented on the Alabama Senate race during a Fox & Friends interview earlier this week—at least the former Office of Government Ethics Director, Walter Shaub, seems to think so.
Shaub said in a tweet on Wednesday that he had filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel after Conway repeatedly blasted Doug Jones, who is running against Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate election. Endorsing or criticizing a candidate would violate the Hatch Act, which “prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election.”
During the interview, Conway stopped just shy of endorsing Moore, but she did take the opportunity to say a vote for Jones would be a vote against tax cuts. “Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” she said.
So, essentially, Conway would prefer to see an accused sexual predator in the Senate because he would help pass the Republican tax cuts. “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” she added.
Part of the problem with Conway’s comments (other than her tacit endorsement of an accused sexual predator) is that she appeared on Fox & Friends as an official representing the White House. The Hatch Act also stipulates that officials can make personal partisan comments, but are prohibited from doing so “when using an official title or when speaking about agency business.”
As Shaub noted on Tuesday, Conway was clearly standing in front of the White House when she bashed Jones, whom she also described as a “doctrinaire liberal.”
Richard Painter, who was the White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, reiterated Shaub’s claim, adding that Conway’s comments were a fireable offense:
It wouldn’t be the first time Conway has violated ethics rules. During a Fox News appearance earlier this year she told viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Her comments were a brazen endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s products, which government officials are prohibited from doing.
In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah dismissed claims that Conway had violated the Hatch Act. “Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Shah said.
Conway responded with her own subtweet of sorts on Tuesday:
Whether or not Conway violated the Hatch Act is up for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to decide. It’s quite clear, however, that Conway is willing to effectively endorse a child predator for the sake of the GOP’s tax cut.