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November 13, 2021

Kellyanne Conway among 13 Trump administration officials in violation of Hatch Act, investigation finds

In a 60-page report, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel details instances when officials allegedly campaigned for the former president while at their White House jobs

Kellyanne Conway is among a group of 13 Trump administration officials in violation of the Hatch Act, a report released by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The former senior counselor to President Trump is listed alongside other senior officials who worked on the former President's administration in 2020, during Trump's reelection campaign.

In the 60-page report released Tuesday, the OSC explains that the purpose of the initial investigation into the Trump staffers happened following the 2020 Republican National Convention, which was held at the White House.

The Hatch Act is a federal law passed in 1939 that limits the political activities of federal employees. The intent of the law is to separate those who work as government employees and those who work on political campaigns to ensure that federally funded programs are administered in a nonpartisan manner and politics are eliminated from workplaces. 

The report details specific instances of Conway campaigning for Trump while appearing in her role as a member of the administration. Conway, a South Jersey native, appeared on FOX News twice in August 2020. During her interview on Aug. 12, she made disparaging comments about then-candidate Joe Biden's choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate.

"I think we can do two things as a nation," she said in the interview. "We can stop and applaud when history is made in our fragile young democracy. And then we can also call into question why perhaps somebody should not be the vice president or the president of the United States."

The report explains Conway's dismissal of Harris as Biden's running mate during the election included comparisons between the Biden-Harris campaign platform and Trump administration policies.

"This is a woman who's for abortion in the ninth month, she's against the Second Amendment, she's against parts of the First Amendment, frankly, she will raise your taxes, she will put our regulations back, she's been terrible on criminal justice," she said.

In an Aug 18 interview, she continued to criticize the Democratic party platform, the DNC, and Biden. According to the report, she contrasted the DNC with the RNC, which she called, "the peoples' convention."

She then made a further comparison between Trump and Biden, whom she said had "done less in 47 years in Washington than Donald Trump has done in 47 months in Washington."

The OSC report notes that, given the nature of these violations, the only person who could have prevented these former White House officials from these violations was Trump himself. Therefore, the Office of Special Counsel is unable to use this information for disciplinary actions, as these people are no longer actively working as government officials.

"The cases described herein demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump's reelection and the limits of OSC's enforcement power under the existing statutory scheme to prevent them from doing so," the OSC wrote in the report.

Including Conway, there are 13 officials named in the report, 11 of which violated the Hatch Act by campaigning on Trump's behalf while also working in the Trump administration. The other two broke campaign rules  the Hatch Act during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

The other high-ranking, Trump administration officials named in the report are: 

• Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette
• Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah
• U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman
• Senior Advisor Jared Kushner
• White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
• White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
• Senior Advisor for Policy Stephen Miller
• Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern
• National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien
• Vice President Chief of Staff Marc Short
• Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
• Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf

The report also notes that Trump did not do anything to prevent these officials violating the law, and in one instance, publicly defended someone found to have violated it. The OSC sent Trump three reports of Hatch Act violations while he was in office, and later sent a report to President Biden, following his inauguration. They issued letters to eight of the people who investigators had found violated the Hatch Act.

Two of those four reports were of Hatch Act violations by Kellyanne Conway, according to the report. Conway responded to the report by saying, "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."