Kellyanne Conway investigated by special counsel for allegedly breaking federal law

Ms Conway is alleged to have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from using their government positions to campaign for or against political candidates

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Wednesday 29 November 2017 16:45 GMT
Kellyanne Conway accused of breaking federal law on Fox News by trying to influence Roy Moore vote

The US Office of Special Counsel will open a case file to address allegations that White House aide Kellyanne Conway breached federal law with her comments about the Alabama Senate race.

Walter Shaub, the ethics chiefs for former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, filed a complaint with the office last week alleging that Ms Conway violated the Hatch Act, a decades-old law that prohibits executive branch employees from using their government positions to campaign for or against political candidates.

In an email to Mr Shaub, Ana Galindo-Marrone, the chief of the Office of Special Counsel's Hatch Act Unit, said the office had opened a case file on the matter, as is the standard practice for such complaints.

“We have received your Hatch Act complaint and will open a case file to address this matter,” she wrote in the email that Mr Shaub posted a photo of on Twitter.

When Ms Conway appeared on Fox and Friends last week, she attacked Democratic candidate Doug Jones, who is competing against embattled Republican Roy Moore for Alabama's Senate seat.

“Folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts,” she said about Mr Jones in the wake of allegations that Mr Moore pursued underage teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Mr Moore has vehemently denied all accusations of any wrongdoing.

“[Mr Jones is] weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners,” Ms Conway said.

Mr Shaub, who resigned as White House ethics director in July, has said it seemed pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate.

Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer in the George W Bush White House, has also asserted that Ms Conway violated federal law.

Mr Painter, who is a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s ethics practices, said: “This is an official interview. She has violated the Hatch Act by using her position to take sides in a partisan election. That is a firing offence. And for her this is strike two.”

The White House, meanwhile, has defended Ms Conway.

“Ms Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said in a statement, according to The Hill.

“She was speaking about issues and her support for the President’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide.”

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