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Fresh Ethics Trouble for Kellyanne Conway

Office of Special Counsel determines she twice violated Hatch Act
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2018 12:35 PM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2018 2:04 PM CST

(Newser) – Two days ago, the New York Times was out with a piece titled "Defying the Odds, Kellyanne Conway Steps Back and Hangs On." Now, a perhaps uncomfortable step back into the spotlight. Tuesday brought word from the US Office of Special Counsel that Conway twice violated the Hatch Act, which the AP explains bars government officials from using their position to try to impact political campaigns. In November and December TV interviews with CNN and Fox, respectively, which were given in her "official capacity" as a White House aide, the federal watchdog determined Conway "impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election."

  • Next steps: CNN reports OSC Special Counsel Henry Kerner is placing the onus of what to do next on the president, whom Kerner has alerted to the violations for "consideration of appropriate disciplinary action."

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  • White House reaction: The Hill has pushback from the White House: "Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act—as she twice declined to respond to the host's specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican."
  • But...: Politico notes that during her second interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Cuomo explicitly said at one point, "you've got to be careful about the Hatch Act." Politico reports the OSC said prior to the violations, Conway "received significant training on Hatch Act violations."
  • Quote 1: CNN has some of the offending lines in question, which were on the subject of the Roy Moore vs. Doug Jones Alabama Senate race: Of Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones: "Folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts. He's weak on crime, weak on borders. He's strong on raising your taxes. He's terrible for property owners."
  • Quote 2: Doug Jones is "out of step for Alabama voters, according to the President," who "doesn't want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama in the United States Senate."
  • Other offenses: Conway ran into ethics trouble last year when she pushed Trump supporters to buy Ivanka Trump's products, and the Washington Post notes she doesn't sit alone on the list of Trump administration members who have run afoul of the Hatch Act. It names social media director Dan Scavino and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley as violators, and has some other less black-and-white examples.
(Read more Kellyanne Conway stories.)

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