Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has launched a petition demanding the resignation or firing of White House aide Kellyanne Conway because of her “egregious, notorious, and ongoing” law-breaking reported by a federal ethics agency this week.
The “violations, and her expressed disdain for the law, make clear that her removal is necessary to preserve the rule of law,” states the petition from CREW, a legal advocacy group that targets corruption in Washington. “Conway must resign or be fired immediately.”
On Thursday, Donald Trump appointee Henry Kerner of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel ― a separate office from that of former special counsel Robert Mueller ― called for Conway’s firing for her “numerous” violations of the Hatch Act, which bars her from using her official position to influence an election. The violation complaints were filed by CREW. Conway’s first infraction was plugging Ivanka Trump’s products during a TV interview in 2017.
“Her actions erode the principal foundation of the democratic system — namely, the rule of law,” Kerner wrote in a letter to the president. Kerner said it’s impossible to enforce the law when Conway arrogantly ignores the statute with impunity.
Conway has repeatedly bashed Democratic presidential candidates during her workday. When challenged on her law-breaking by a reporter last month, Conway scoffed: “Blah, blah, blah ... Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
Kerner was viciously attacked after the letter by White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves, who accused his office of “weaponizing” the ethics law and “violating” Conway’s constitutional rights. White House counsel Pat Cipollone followed with an 11-page letter attacking the OSC report.
Trump has no intention of firing Conway, whom he described Friday as a “wonderful person.” He believes Conway’s campaigning for him at work on the federal payroll is a “First Amendment” issue. “It really sounds to me like a free speech thing,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
The Supreme Court has twice upheld the constitutionality of the Hatch Act, which was passed in 1939, University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck noted Friday in an essay on the NBC News website. Conway’s actions violate the conditions of her employment as a nonpartisan worker representing the public. She is free to campaign for Trump on her own time when she’s off the taxpayer clock.
Vladeck calls the White House position on the situation particularly “galling” because of the rank “hypocrisy” of a Trump administration that has “asserted its right to fire senior government officers for no reason, and that has portrayed private speech by government employees as tantamount to treason.”