October 23, 2018
Kellyanne Conway appears to have yet again ignored ethics rules and violated the Hatch Act by using her social media to promote the Republican party in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections. CREW filed a Hatch Act complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) requesting an investigation.
Conway’s political activity includes tweeting President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” and expressing her political views about partisan candidates running in the November 2018 elections.
Her Twitter account @KellyannePolls also appears to be an official one, as her bio at the time read “Counselor to the President.” Since this complaint was filed, that bio has been removed. More than 70% of her tweets were related to official government business like posting videos of interviews she conducted in an official capacity on behalf of the Trump Administration. Less than 30% of her posts appeared to be personal in nature.
The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” OSC guidance on applying the Hatch Act prohibitions to social media, including Twitter, specifically advises that an employee may not “use a Facebook or Twitter account in his official capacity to engage in political activity” and requires that any social media account created in a federal employee’s official capacity “remain politically neutral.” In March, OSC offered additional clarification explicitly prohibiting an employee from using the slogan “Make America Great Again,” hashtags such as #MAGA, or “any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns.”
Conway has already been reprimanded twice for Hatch Act violation, and received ethics counseling from OSC following a CREW complaint about her promotion of Ivanka Trump products.