A government watchdog on Thursday recommended that Kellyanne Conway - a senior adviser to President Donald Trump - be removed from her job immediately for repeatedly breaking federal law.
The Office of Special Counsel - which is not connected to the office of special counsel Robert Mueller - sent a letter to the president, saying Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity.
Conway - who is known for her combative exchanges with the media - commented on the Alabama election in multiple interviews in 2017, saying Democrat Doug Jones was weak on crime and that a vote for him would be a vote for higher taxes.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their office to campaign for or against political candidates.
In a statement, the OSC said: "Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act, employees of the White House are not.
OSC's letter to the President accompanying the report refers to Ms. Conway as a "repeat offender" and states: "Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions." The agency also pointed to comments she made last month, flouting the federal law.
Conway said: "If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," and "Let me know when the jail sentence starts." In response, the White House said: “The Office of Special Counsel’s unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process..." Conway also got in trouble for violating ethics rules when she told viewers to buy items from Ivanka Trump's clothing line in a 2017 TV interview.
In that case, the White House said Conway acted “inadvertently” and said she had committed to follow the rules in the future.