The Office of Special Counsel — no, not the recently disbanded Mueller team — is an independent federal agency charged with overseeing government personnel and whether or not they violate the rules and laws that cover prohibited practices for employees of the federal government. That means that if, say, one of the President’s advisors — by definition a government employee — violates a law or rule regarding what they may say or do in their official capacity as a government employee, it’s the OSC that makes the determination.
If you get the feeling that you never heard of the OSC before the Trump administration, you’re not alone. Violations of the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the laws under the jurisdiction of the OSC, have historically been rare.
In fact, it’s specifically the Hatch Act that the Trump administration seems to have trouble with. That one governs whether or not government employees can engage in “political activity” while working in their official capacity for the government. The logic, of course, is that the government itself is like a courtroom: Meant to be purely non-partisan and unbiased. Any political favoritism, then, shown by an employee of what’s supposed to be a neutral system, violates the Act.
And Kellyanne Conway has essentially become a professional at it now.
In a recommendation to the administration, the OSC wrote that Conway had violated the Act numerous times, by disparaging candidates and politicians from the opposing party while acting in her official capacity, and said that firing her outright was the only way to avoid a devastating outcome:
As a highly visible member of the administration, 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. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law.”
Trump will not fire her, of course. He has been too busy telling even former employees of the federal government to break the law and ignore subpoenas to even consider actually punishing someone for flagrantly violating the law multiple times.
Featured image via screen capture
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