Former ethics chief files complaint after Conway attacks Alabama Dem
The former director of the Office of Government Ethics filed a complaint with a federal watchdog over White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s comments on the Alabama Senate race, saying Conway could have violated a law that forbids federal employees from using their positions for political purposes.
“I have filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations,” Walter Shaub tweeted Wednesday.
I have filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations. https://t.co/Mrm8al9nZz
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 22, 2017
The Hatch Act “prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election.”
His complaint comes after Conway earlier this week blasted Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones.
“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,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.”
Conway was questioned on whether she was telling people in Alabama to vote for GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers.
“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway said, calling Jones a “doctrinaire liberal.”
Shaub pointed out in another tweet that Conway was “standing in front of the White House” while giving the interview.
“It seems pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate,” he tweeted. “This is at least as clear a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1) as OSC identified with regard to Castro.”
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. pic.twitter.com/EwTwPriaVX
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 21, 2017
The White House denied that Conway did anything improper.
“Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” said Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary in a statement 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.”
In a previous tweet, Shaub published a picture of a letter from July 18, 2016, regarding a complaint “alleging prohibited political activity” by former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.
The letter said that the Office of Special Counsel determined Castro violated the Hatch Act by “advocating for and against Presidential candidates while giving a media interview in his official capacity.”
According to the Hatch Act, federal officials can make partisan remarks in their personal capacity, but they cannot “when using an official title or when speaking about agency business.”
This story was updated at 3:18 p.m.
Jordan Fabian contributed.