House panel votes to subpoena Trump adviser Conway on Hatch Act

FILE PHOTO: White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway attends a working lunch with governors on workforce freedom and mobility in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee voted 25-16 on Wednesday to subpoena testimony from White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway after she failed to appear at a hearing about her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a law that limits federal employees’ political activity.

The Office of Special Counsel, a U.S. government watchdog agency, earlier this month recommended Conway be fired for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

Consistent with a pattern of stonewalling numerous congressional investigations of President Donald Trump, his administration and his business interests, the White House has asserted that Conway did not need to testify to the committee.

Henry Kerner, who runs the Office of Special Counsel, said at the committee hearing that Conway left him “no choice” but to recommend her termination because she has committed “at least 10 separate Hatch Act violations, expressed no remorse, and continues to express disdain” for the law.

Kerner is a Trump appointee and longtime Republican Party lawyer. His office is an independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act. It is not connected to the office of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Representative Jim Jordan, the committee’s top Republican, said Democrats were seeking to limit Conway’s free speech rights because they disagreed with her views and because she has been an effective advocate for the president’s agenda.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

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