In “Agency calls on president to fire Conway” (Page A2, June 14), I read with chagrin about yet another of what seem like daily examples of President Trump’s utter disregard for “the principal foundation of our democratic system.” That’s how Trump appointee and head of the Office of Special Counsel Henry Kerner describes “the rule of law,” referring here to its erosion on account of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s flagrant violations of the Hatch Act.
It was among my duties, as the US Labor Department’s ethics officer for New England, from 2009 to 2018, to remind the department’s regional agency leaders regularly that the Hatch Act bars federal employees from engaging in partisan campaign politics at work. These leaders understood that if they violated the law, they would set an example of seemingly acceptable behavior for everyone else. This comports with Kerner’s view that since Conway is “a highly visible member of the administration,” her repeat offenses, “if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions.”
But instead of firing Conway, as Kerner had recommended, Trump patted her on the back, demonstrating again, to our collective peril, that he chooses to lead by flouting rather than respecting the fundamental tenets of our democracy.
The author retired as the Labor Department’s New England regional solicitor in 2018.