CONWAY

Kellyanne Conway (Washington Post photo by Matt McClain)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog agency on Thursday recommended that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be fired for repeatedly violating a law that limits certain political activities of federal employees.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller's office, said Conway is a "repeat offender" of the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

Conway told reporters who encountered her in the White House press office, "I have no reaction."

White House spokesman Steven Groves called the watchdog agency's decision "unprecedented" and "deeply flawed" and said it violated Conway's constitutional rights to free speech and due process.

"Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations — and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act," Groves said in a statement.

The Office of Special Counsel noted that, during a May 29 media interview, Conway minimized the significance of the law as applied to her.

When asked about the Hatch Act, the office stated that she replied: "If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," and "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."

The office had found in March 2018 that Conway violated the Hatch Act during two television interviews in which she advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.

Career government officials found to have violated the Hatch Act can be fired, suspended or demoted, and fined up to $1,000.

Conway has been an unwavering defender of President Donald Trump on cable news. Trump has praised her for her "success" in her career.

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