Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In the wake of the Office of the Special Counsel recommending that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be fired for violations of the Hatch Act, it's worth noting that she's not the first Trump administration to be censured as a result of the law.

The big picture: In 2018, six White House staffers were found to have violated the Hatch Act which prohibits specific political activities while serving as a federal employee. The law, established in 1939, is meant to ensure that the federal government does not exert influence on elections. All of the individuals were officially warned that continued violations could be subject to further action, but no official punishments were enforced.

Details: The following White House officials were accused of violations last winter...

  • Raj Shah, principal deputy press secretary
  • Jessica Ditto, deputy director of communications
  • Madeleine Westerhout, executive assistant to the president
  • Helen Aguirre Ferré, former special assistant to the president and director of media affairs
  • Alyssa Farah, press secretary for the vice president
  • Jacob Wood, Office of Management and Budget deputy communications director

All of the individuals violated the rule by using Twitter accounts designated for official business to tweet partisan material, including #MAGA and "Make America Great Again."

The bottom line: In comparison, the call to fire Conway is unprecedented in its tone and ultimate recommendation. In response to the report, the White House argued that the "actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process."

Go deeper

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Why it matters: Once staid tech policy debates are quickly becoming a major focal point of American culture and political wars, as both parties fret about the impact of massive social networks being the new public square.

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How overhyping became an election meddling tool

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As online platforms and intelligence officials get more sophisticated about detecting and stamping out election meddling campaigns, bad actors are increasingly seeing the appeal of instead exaggerating their own interference capabilities to shake Americans' confidence in democracy.

Why it matters: It doesn't take a sophisticated operation to sow seeds of doubt in an already fractious and factionalized U.S. Russia proved that in 2016, and fresh schemes aimed at the 2020 election may already be proving it anew.

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