No, it’s the other Office of Special Counsel, not Robert Mueller, and it’s not going to get anyone prosecuted either. Kellyanne Conway should prepare herself to get — at most — a not-so-strongly-worded memo dropped into her employment file at the White House. The OSC has flagged Conway for two violations of the Hatch Act, both of which took place on national television:
JUST IN: Office of Special Counsel finds Kellyanne Conway twice violated the Hatch Act and "submitted the report to the President for appropriate disciplinary action." pic.twitter.com/N6kyhhqdrW
— ABC News (@ABC) March 6, 2018
In a new report, the OSC special counsel, Henry Kerner, pointed to Conway’s TV interviews conducted in her “official capacity” in November and December of last year. The agency said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.”
One of the two interviews was on CNN’s “New Day,” and the second was on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
Technically, these two incidents violate the Hatch Act, but it’s … not much. The Hatch Act aims to prevent federal officials from using their resources for campaigning, which presumably means their staff, their office time, and their access to perks like franking and communications resources. That’s a good law to the extent that it prevents federal officials from perpetuating the political leadership at the expense of taxpayers and potential challengers in the next election.
In these particular instances, though, its application is exceedingly picky. Conway is a White House official, and she may have been asked to appear on these shows to discuss Trump administration policies and efforts, but that shouldn’t make a discussion of Trump’s actions in a state election a federal crime. In the CNN interview which is included at the above link, Chris Cuomo wanted answers as to why Trump endorsed Roy Moore despite allegations of sexual assault, a topic that reflected more on the president than the election itself anyway. Conway’s official position at the White House is “counselor to the president,” a West Wing position that has traditionally been tasked with political tasks, although not campaign-related tasks, which would be a more substantial violation of the Hatch Act. If Conway had refused to answer, that would have been news.
The punishment for these violations is left to the discretion of the president. Let’s just say that Donald Trump is not likely to fire Conway for the crime of defending Donald Trump.
And thus ….
WH on OSC recommendation Conway be disciplined for ethics violations:
"Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act… she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican" pic.twitter.com/7Qgzrg1jjm
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) March 6, 2018