I knew this was going to get nuts and fast. Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, a 1939 law enacted to prevent “pernicious political activities.” Simply, the Act provides that a government employee may not do political activities, like campaigning, while on the job. The problem is, in Trump-topia, the Act is rendered completely meaningless, and flagrantly disregarded all the time, because all of Trump’s employees are hired solely for the purpose of being sycophants and campaigners for him 24/7/365. Their respective titles are moot, that’s everyone’s job.
The Office of Special Counsel, a watchdog group, (not to be confused with the Mueller investigation) recommended Thursday that Kellyanne Conway be fired for her most recent violations of the Hatch Act in disparaging Joe Biden, but the ultimate Catch-22 is that only the *resident can make that call — and you think he’s going to fire his main fascism mouthpiece, next to Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Oh, please. This is what Trump said about Sewer Rat Barbie last year. Washington Post:
“She’ll do the shows that nobody else dares go near,” Trump said in a speech last spring praising her. “She’ll just — I’ll say, do this one or that one. No problem, sir. Others say, sir, do you think I could take a pass please, I beg you please. Great going, Kellyanne. Thank you. What a help.”
Violating the Hatch Act is Conway’s stock in trade and has been from early on. In 2017, she said, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you,” which drew a reprimand and she and was off camera for a brief time. In 2018, Conway campaigned for Roy Moore, again in flagrant violation of the Act. She has zero intention of stopping now and has said as much.
“Blah, blah, blah,” Conway said last month when asked about the violations. “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
[Agency head Henry J.] Kerner said Thursday that her ongoing violations show “this is someone who simply isn’t going to stop.”
The reprimands of Conway are among a series of Hatch Act violations by Trump administration officials.
In late 2018, the Office of Special Counsel found six White House officials in violation of the law for using their official Twitter accounts to send or display political messages supporting Trump.
Others sanctioned by the Office of Special Counsel for political messages include former interior secretary Ryan Zinke; Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman; Dan Scavino, former White House social media director; and Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
So, of course, the Trump White House turned and attacked the OSC, even though the head of it, Kerner, is a Trump appointee — more accurately a McGahn appointee, but why split hairs? Let the legal and ethical gladiator games begin. New York Times:
The White House on Thursday released an 11-page memo from Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, rejecting the 17-page report by Mr. Kerner, the special counsel, who was appointed in 2017 by Mr. Trump.
“OSC’s draft report is based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors, makes unfair and unsupported claims against a close adviser to the president, is the product of a blatantly unfair process that ignored statutory notice requirements, and has been influenced by various inappropriate considerations,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.
Among other things, he argued that the special counsel was applying an overreaching interpretation of the law to target the president’s aide, particularly by applying unjustified standards to social media.
“OSC’s overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway’s First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees,” Mr. Cipollone wrote. The call for Ms. Conway’s firing, he added, “is as outrageous as it is unprecedented.”
The “free speech of all government employees” is already chilled — by Conway’s actions, as Kerner points out:
“In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed,” he said, adding: “What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you can break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?”
That’s exactly the message that is sent. If you’re Trump or one of his close circle, you are above the law. And here’s where this is going, from Politico reporter Kyle Cheney.
JUST IN: The House Oversight Committee has announced a hearing next week with the Office of Special Counsel to review the Hatch Act allegations against Kellyanne Conway. Conway is also invited to attend.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 13, 2019
Note: The hearing is set for June 26, not precisely next week.
Fun fact: Kerner was staff director under John McCain of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which would make him old school Republican.
Second fun fact: Even Fox News is defying Trump on this one. RawStory:
“The office is headed by a man who was appointed by President Trump,” Fox News host Shepard Smith noted. “It said, if left unpunished, her actions send the message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act.”
Napolitano explained that the regulation prevented federal employees from engaging in partisan attacks while on federal property or using federal assets.
“It seems like a pretty clear-cut case to me, and it seems like her behavior is repeated,” Napolitano said.
Unless I miss my guess, the coffee pots are flying into the TV sets at the White House, while Trump tears at his cotton candy hair, watching Fox News betray him. How can he go on without Sewer Rat Barbie, who, as he himself has said, is the only one who will “do the shows that nobody else dares go near?” Propagandists of the Hanoi Hannah and Tokyo Rose caliber are not easy to come by. And Hucky Boo Boo doesn’t have Conway’s legal training. She makes fallacious arguments, too, depending upon her religious sanctimony to carry the day, but she’s not as smart as Conway. Plus, Sanders has fallen on her a$$ recently. Her only propaganda proclamations are on Fox News. She hasn’t given a press conference in over ninety days. She’s probably s*itting herself in a broom closet somewhere, terrified that if Conway goes down in flames, it’s going to be up to her to do Conway’s job. Mick Mulvaney is probably gone today as well, maybe to the same gym that John Kelly used to go to hide during the day when the heat got too hot in the Trump kitchen.
It’s always an ill wind that blows the day that Fox News goes against Trump. Sewer Rat Barbie may not survive this one. Holy Hannity, Batman.