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Former ethics director to file another complaint against Kellyanne Conway

Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 07, 2017

The former director of the US Office of Government Ethics plans to file a second Hatch Act complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, after she appeared to defend GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama and speak against his competitor on TV.

Walter Shaub, who served as ethics director under the Obama administration, is filing his second Hatch Act complaint in a month against Conway.

According to a draft shared with CNN, the complaint argues that Conway likely violated the Hatch Act after appearing to endorse Moore while appearing on CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday morning. The Hatch Act prohibits White House officials from advocating for or against candidates, even in media interviews. The complaint will be filed by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center.

During her interview with Chris Cuomo, Conway spoke openly about the President's endorsement of Moore and negative feelings about his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. At times she appeared to add her own opinions of Jones.

"The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump's," Conway said. "And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He'll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He'll be a reliable vote against border security. He'll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping ISIS in retreat. He'll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life."

The draft of the complaint stated that "approximately 15 minutes of the 21-minute appearance was consumed by Ms. Conway advocating against the election of Democrat Doug Jones" and "additionally defending or advocating for the election of Jones' Republican opponent, Roy Moore."

Conway refrained from giving her opinion specifically during the interview, saying, "My feelings don't matter — anytime I express a feeling about a candidate, people who want to make themselves relevant get airtime and Twitter time."

Last month, Shaub submitted his first Hatch Act complaint against Conway after she appeared on Fox News and advocated against Jones. She addressed the heated Alabama race and Moore's Democratic competitor, saying, "Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners."

Conway added: "I just want everybody to know, Doug Jones, nobody ever says his name, and pretends he is some kind of conservative Democrat in Alabama. And he's not."

After that interview, Shaub tweeted: "I found the video. She's standing In front of the White House. It seems pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate. ... "

Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at Campaign Legal Center, said the US Office of Special Counsel acknowledged receipt of the first complaint and indicated that it would open a file on the issue.