Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, watchdog agency says

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Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump's top advisers, violated federal law in two television interviews past year by using her White House position to weigh in on a political race, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said on Tuesday.

The agency says Conway never responded to its inquiries and says that it has submitted its report to the president for "appropriate disciplinary action".

Appearing on Fox News last November, Conway said Democratic candidate Doug Jones "will be a vote against tax cuts".

"OSC is now the second federal agency to find Conway in violation of ethics-related provisions", Shaub wrote. "He's strong on raising your taxes".

Prior to Conway, the OSC issued a warning to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for retweeting Trump's endorsement of Republican congressional candidate Ralph Norman in South Carolina-a state the ambassador presided over as governor. Jones won the election in a rare victory for Alabama Democrats. "He is awful for property owners".

In a "Fox & Friends" interview on November 20, during which she was introduced as "counselor to the president", Conway advocated against Jones, who she called a "doctrinaire liberal".

In both cases, the report sent to the White House states, Conway tried to affect the outcome of the December 12 election - once by urging viewers to support Moore and once by opposing Jones' candidacy.

The Hatch Act prohibits government employees, such as Conway, from influencing an election through their position in the administration.

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The White House Counsel's office had maintained Conway's remarks were part of a broader discussion on the prospects for the president's agenda, and were not intended as advocacy for or against a candidate.

Technically, these two incidents violate the Hatch Act, but it's ... not much.

She again denounced Jones in favor of the Republican candidate Roy Moore during her December 6 CNN interview. "Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future".

It falls to the president to decide if Ms Conway should face disciplinary action.

Conway came under fire for violating a different ethics provision previous year, when she urged Trump supporters to purchase Ivanka Trump brand products.

The development came a day after former Trump aide Sam Nunberg claimed in a series of TV and newspaper interviews that he would refuse to comply with a subpoena request from Mr Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Office of Special Counsel found that the White House reasoning "lacks merit", adding that Conway's comments went beyond commentary.