As Air Force One flew high over the North Atlantic Ocean last week, White House aide Kellyanne Conway typed out tweets attacking Joe Biden and other Democratic presidential candidates — possibly generating Hatch Act violations beyond those a federal ethics office on Thursday recommended she be fired for.
Two hours after the modified 747 took off from Shannon, Ireland, following President Donald Trump’s golf vacation, Conway attacked the former vice president over his reversal on an abortion law, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar over her statements about a mining company and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand over her changed position on guns.
“Apparently Kellyanne Conway will go to the ends of the earth, or soar to the heavens, in her quest to violate the Hatch Act and evidence her utter disdain for the rule of law,” said Robert Weissman, president of the liberal group Public Citizen.
Conway did not respond to a HuffPost request for comment. Nor did outgoing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other members of her press office.
The Office of Special Counsel on Thursday released a report recommending that Trump fire Conway for her repeated and continued violations of the law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity on government time or government property.
Conway has made it a practice of disparaging Democrats in news interviews conducted on White House grounds and mocking reporters who ask her about it. The OSC’s director, Henry Kerner, noted a recent instance of that in the 17-page report to Trump in which he urged him to fire her, particularly given that she had already been reprimanded by that office before.
“In a May 29, 2019 interview, Ms. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, reportedly scoffed at her responsibilities under the Hatch Act and ridiculed its enforcement by asserting, ‘Let me know when the jail sentence starts,’” Kerner wrote. “Her defiant attitude is inimical to the law, and her continued pattern of misconduct is unacceptable.”
The White House released a statement rejecting the recommendation, calling the report “deeply flawed” and a violation of “her constitutional rights to free speech and due process.”
There was no indication that Trump intended to dismiss Conway, who managed his campaign in the final months of the 2016 race.
In all, over a period of 24 minutes of the seven-hour, $2 million flight back to Washington, Conway wrote four tweets attacking Democratic presidential candidates, as well as one agreeing with Trump’s reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale in his praise for his boss.
“Following Biden’s flip-flop flop on Hyde Amendment, wonder if he stands by his vote to ban partial-birth abortions while in Senate,” she wrote at 12:08 p.m. Washington time, as the presidential plane flew seven miles high and slightly south of Greenland.
At 12:15, she added to Parscale’s post boasting of low unemployment rates for people without college degrees: “The ‘forgotten’ man and ‘forgotten’ woman will ‘remember’ this!”
And at 12:33, she wrote of Gillibrand: “Another flip-flopper whopper.”
Conway’s Twitter attacks on Democrats had specifically drawn the OSC’s attention because she used her personal account for both official business as well as political messaging.
“As recently as May 7, 2019, Ms. Conway retweeted a campaign advertisement that remarked positively on the president’s economy as compared to the ‘Obama-Biden economy,’” Kerner wrote. “Ms. Conway’s advocacy against the Democratic candidates and open endorsement of the president’s reelection effort during both official media appearances and on her Twitter account constitute prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act.”
Trump was in Ireland so he could stay and play golf at his resort in Doonbeg, a short helicopter flight from Shannon. The trip cost taxpayers an additional $3.6 million beyond what it would have cost had Trump merely flown home after a D-Day commemoration ceremony in France. His total golf expenses to taxpayers now stand at $105.8 million, according to a HuffPost analysis.
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