House panel holds hearing on possible violations by Trump officials

The House Oversight Committee is meeting Wednesday to look at instances when Trump administration officials may have violated a federal law that limits political activity by government workers. The hearing comes after a federal watchdog recommended President Trump remove White House counselor Kellyanne Conway from federal service earlier this month for violating the Hatch Act “dozens” of times.

The committee had invited Conway to testify about her own violations of the Hatch Act but the White House effectively blocked Conway from testifying about concerns that she had engaged in prohibited political speech while working for the administration.

What is the Hatch Act?

The Hatch Act, named after Former Senator Carl Hatch and otherwise known as “An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities,” restricts federal employees from engaging in “political activity” on federal property, while “on duty,” when “wearing a uniform or official insignia identifying the office or position of the employee,” or when using government property, like government-issued cars, computers and phones.

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Among its concerns, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that Conway “violated the Hatch Act on two occasions by advocating for and against candidates in the December 2017 Alabama special election for United States Senate.” The OSC also noted Conway’s repeated criticism of Democratic presidential candidates in TV interviews and on social media.

The committee is set to hear from Special Counsel Henry Kerner of the OSC during Wednesday’s hearing. With Conway’s no-show, the Committee now intends to vote to subpoena her shortly after their morning session.

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.