The Trump administration has seen more than its fair share of scandals since it began. Prominent aides have been fired, Twitter wars have been sparked, and President Donald Trump has given his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a pivotal political role. The latest drama in the executive branch came today, March 6th, when a federal watchdog ruled that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had violated the Hatch Act in the past.
But um, what is the Hatch Act?
The Hatch Act was passed in 1939, and prevents government employees from participating in politics. But the act doesn’t apply to everyone; the president and vice president are exempt, but people with nonpartisan roles, like members of the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, have to obey it. As the OSC wrote, government employees still have the right to express their political positions when acting as private citizens, but they cannot do so in an official capacity. The law is meant to prevent conflicts of interest and keep one political party from taking over the government.
Why is Conway in trouble?
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) — not to be confused with Special Counsel Robert Mueller — said today that Conway violated the federal law two times in 2017 when she was speaking in an official capacity about the Alabama Senate race. On CNN’s New Day in December, she said that Democrat Doug Jones was “out of step for Alabama voters, according to the president.” And on Fox & Friends in November, she argued that the Democrat would raise taxes in Alabama and fail to crack down on crime and strengthen borders.
After the charges surfaced, many were quick to call for Conway’s removal.
The OSC referred Conway to Trump to receive disciplinary action. In the meantime, the White House issued an official statement denying that Conway had violated the law and saying that her comments were a reflection of the president’s views rather than her own.
Since Trump is the only person who can discipline Conway for breaking this rule, it’s unlikely that she will face any negative consequences, especially since she routinely defends the president’s falsehoods. But the Hatch Act is important in making sure that our government operates with the country’s best interests in mind. We need politicians to make sure the law is honored.