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Government watchdog says Kellyanne Conway violated Hatch Act, calls for her removal from office

Government watchdog says Kellyanne Conway violated Hatch Act, calls for her removal from office
A federal watchdog agency has recommended that White House aide Kellyanne Conway be terminated, as her criticism of Democratic candidates violate the Hatch Act, a law that restricts the political activity of federal employees.

“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 US Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency responsible for enforcing the act, said in its report, published Thursday, adding Conway’s actions undermined the “foundation of our democratic system” and “the rule of law.”

Under the Hatch Act, White House employees are prohibited from participating in political campaigns or expressing opinions on candidates running for office.

In interviews on Fox News and CNN between February and May of this year, the OSC argues Conway made denigrating statements about Democratic presidential candidates Senator Elizibeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and former VP Joe Biden.

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The latest OSC report is not the first time the White House aide has come under fire for running afoul of Hatch. The office ruled in March of 2018 that Conway violated the act when she weighed in on Alabama’s senatorial race with support for Republican candidate Roy Moore.

When confronted by a reporter last month with the findings of the previous OSC probe, Conway was dismissive of the charge.

“Blah, blah, blah,” she said. “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”

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White House spokesperson Steven Groves was critical of the report, arguing the OSC was not a neutral arbiter of the facts.

“Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations – and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner,” he said, urging the office not to “weaponize” the law.

The OSC is unrelated to former special counsel Robert Mueller, who carried out the probe into alleged ties between US President Donald Trump and Moscow.

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