Congressional members, according to President Donald J. Trump, are essentially trying to stifle White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s free speech rights. Is it a matter of free speech or is Conway violating the law? While the president would have us believe Conway’s free speech rights are being violated, as an employee of the executive branch, the White House counsellor is subject to the Hatch Act.
Dated 13 June 2019, the U.S. Office of Speical Counsel sent the president a letter outlining recommendations indicating White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be removed from federal service. The recommendation was a direct result of the counsellor repeatedly violating the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act goes back to the late 1930s. The law, established in 1939, prohibits federal employees from conducting political activities using resources paid for by taxpayers. Consequently, federal offices, social media accounts, government telephones and not talking about expressly political things on government property.
While the act applies to all federal employees, the main provision is specific to employees working within the executive branch. There are of course exceptions to the Hatch Act. It does not apply to either the president or vice-president.
Both congressional members and federal employees, as a standard, do not use governmental equipment to engage in overtly political acts. Governmental equipment, relatively speaking, is anything paid for by the government. If one is on the White House driveway or other federal properties, when using social media, it is a violation of the act to engage in overtly political acts. Even though it seems Trump does not take the Hatch Act seriously, there are people working on Capitol Hill which live by this law daily.
When engaging in political work for the benefit of their own party, House Democrats do not conduct such business on Capitol Hill because it violates the Hatch Act. House Democrats, by using the DNC (Democratic National Committee) Headquarters to conduct political business, do not violate the Hatch Act.