President Trump Should Act on OSC Recommendation to Take Disciplinary Action Against Kellyanne Conway

Mar 6, 2018
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Shaub: “The White House cannot continue to have one standard for the federal workforce generally and a lower standard for appointees who are close to this President.”

Today, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act by using her official position to advocate for the election of Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, and for the defeat of his opponent, Doug Jones, after Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed two Hatch Act complaints with OSC in November and December.

CLC issued the following statement from Walter Shaub, CLC’s senior director, ethics and the former director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE):

“This case was a slam dunk. All the same, it couldn’t have been easy for Special Counsel Henry Kerner to issue a finding that one of the president’s top advisors violated an ethics law. Kerner was only recently appointed to the position of Special Counsel, and he knew he risked upsetting the White House with this finding. He is probably aware of the history that that the White House got upset when, as the head of the Office of Government Ethics, I found that Ms. Conway violated another ethics provision. Nevertheless, Kerner went ahead and did the right thing. It speaks well of him, and it’s good to see OSC continuing to enforce this important ethics law.”   

The question now is whether the White House will uphold the Hatch Act, as it is up to the White House to decide how high-level employees like Conway should be disciplined. The willfulness of Conway’s violation makes clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part. As Walter Shaub pointed out today, “OSC is now the second federal agency to find Conway in violation of ethics-related provisions. Enough is enough. She has made clear that she’s not interested in following government ethics rules. It’s time for the President to act.”

Noting that lower-level federal employees have incurred severe penalties for less serious Hatch Act violations, Shaub added, “The White House cannot continue to have one standard for the federal workforce generally and a lower standard for appointees who are close to this President.”

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