A former director of the US Office of Government Ethics is claiming that counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway may have violated the Hatch Act with her recent comments about Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones.
Walter Shaub, who served as ethics director under former President Barack Obama, said that Conway may have violated the Hatch Act during a recent interview on Fox News. The Hatch Act prohibits White House officials from advocating for or against candidates.
During an interview on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” Tuesday, Conway said, “Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners.”
When pressed by the hosts if they should vote for Roy Moore, Conway replied, “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax, this tax bill through.”
Conway later added: “I just want everybody to know, Doug Jones, nobody ever says his name, and pretends he is some kind of conservative Democrat in Alabama. And he’s not.”
After the interview, Shaub tweeted, “I found the video. She’s standing In front of the White House. It seems pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate. This is at least as clear a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1) as OSC identified with regard to Castro.”
According to CNN, White House spokesman Raj Shah responded to Shaub’s assertion in a statement, saying, “Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way. She was speaking about issues and her support for the President’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide.”
On Wednesday, Shaub tweeted that he had filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel against Conway.
This isn’t the first time that Conway has found herself at the center of a firestorm regarding comments she made during an interview. In February, she told people to go out and buy Ivanka Trump merchandise when talking about the brand being dropped by retailers.
The comment was thought to go against a federal law that prohibits public employees from endorsing “any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”