House panel subpoenas Kellyanne Conway for refusing to testify about Hatch Act violations
- The House Oversight and Reform Committee issued a subpoena to White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday.
- At the White House's direction, Conway refused to appear before the committee for testimony on violations of the Hatch Act, which bars certain political activity for individuals working in government.
- The Office of Special Counsel previously recommended Conway be terminated from her role for repeatedly flaunting the Hatch Act.
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WASHINGTON - The House Oversight and Reform Committee issued a subpoena Wednesday to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after she refused to testify in a hearing examining her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, a law prohibiting executive branch officials from engaging in political conduct in their official capacities.
The committee voted largely along partisan lines, 25-16, with Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan as the only Republican voting with Democrats to issue the subpoena.
The Office of Special Counsel had previously recommended Conway be terminated for refusing to adhere to the Hatch Act. The committee's latest action is yet another attempt to haul in high profile officials from President Donald Trump's administration, but has once again been stonewalled.
The OSC sent a letter to President Donald Trump outlining why they believe Conway should be terminated and "removal from service to be the appropriate disciplinary action."
"Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act," the OSC said in a statement last week, "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," they added. "Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of law."
Conway refused to attend the hearing, with White House counsel Pat Cipollone detailing why they would not let her testify.
"As you know, the precedent for members of the White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines," Cipollone wrote to Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings.
At the hearing, oversight committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings got into a testy exchanges with Ranking Member Jim Jordan and GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, who both defended Conway and argued she was being singled out.
"[Conway] is a public official who we pay, by the way, and who has refused to explain herself. Let me clear. I think we have gotten to a point, sadly, where disobeying the law is okay," Cummings said, banging his gavel and emphasizing "yes, it is" when interrupted by Meadows, who argued Conway hadn't violated the law.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley slammed Conway for appearing on "Fox & Friends" instead of appearing to testify before the committee, saying: "we have offered her a platform to explain herself, and she did not show up ... this is completely disrespectful to us as a co-equal branch of government."
Many White House officials have ignored subpoenas to appear before hostile Democrat-controlled committees. As a result, several individuals are slated to be held in contempt, including Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Several others could soon face stiff punishment for refusing to cooperate with Congress as well.