White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has been accused of breaking a federal law during a television interview by discussing candidates in the Alabama Senate election race.
Conway was being interviewed on Fox News in her capacity as a White House official, meaning her comments against Democratic candidate Doug Jones appear to violate the Hatch Act, according to Think Progress.
The Hatch Act states that an official may not "use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an election," Think Progress noted.
"Doug Jones in Alabama?" said Conway. "Folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts, he's weak on crime, weak on borders, he's strong on raising your taxes, he's terrible for property owners, and Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal which is why he's not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him."
This prompted a question from one of the "Fox & Friends" hosts.
"So vote Roy Moore?" they asked.
Conway avoided a direct answer.
"I'm telling you, we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through," she added.
Richard Painter, a White House ethics counsel under former President George W. Bush, tweeted about what Conway had said.
"This is an official interview," Painter wrote. "She has violated the Hatch Act by using her position to take sides in a partisan election. That is a firing offense. And for her this is strike two."
Walter Schaub, the former head of the Office for Government Ethics in the Obama administration, confirmed that he filed a formal legal complaint about the incident.
If Conway is investigated, she would not be the first White House official to fall foul of the Hatch Act. In 2016, the Office of Special Counsel looked into remarks made by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
"Now, taking off my HUD hat for a second and just speaking individually," Castro said in 2016, "It is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful, and prepared candidate for president that we have this year."
President Barack Obama declined to press charges against Castro.
Schaub referred to Castro in his response to Conway's interview.
"I found the video," Schaub tweeted, according to CNN. "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. This is at least as clear a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1) as OSC identified with regard to Castro."
The White House pushed back on the allegation that Conway broke the law.
"Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way," White House spokesman Raj Shah told CNN. "She was speaking about issues and her support for the president's agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide."