Political participation as civilian employee

Political participation as civilian employee

With this year being an important election year in which voters will select a new president, along with other federal, state and local candidates, it is appropriate to once again send out some friendly reminders about the dos and don’ts when it comes to civil service and your political participation.

The rules governing political activities for civilian employees are different from those that govern uniformed members of the military. 

The Hatch Act, a federal law passed in 1939, limits certain political activities of federal employees.

The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.

The Hatch Act separates employees into two categories: “Further Restricted Employees,” generally those employees in intelligence and enforcement-type agencies, and “Less Restricted” employees, which constitute the rest. 

The following is a list of political activities that are prohibited and permitted by civilian employees who fall under the “Less Restricted” category.

Prohibited

• May not use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. For example:

— May not use their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity.

— May not invite subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggest to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity.

 • May not solicit, accept or receive a donation or contribution for a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. For example:

— May not host a political fundraiser.

— May not collect contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions.

• May not be candidates for public office in partisan political elections.

• May not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of anyone who has business pending before their employing office.

• May not engage in political activity — i.e. activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group — while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle. For example:

— May not display campaign materials or items.

— May not perform campaign related chores.

— May not wear or display partisan political buttons, T-shirts, signs, or other items.

— May not make political contributions to a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

— May not post a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

— May not use any e-mail account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

Permitted

• May be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections.

• May register and vote as they choose.

• May assist in voter registration drives.

• May contribute money to political campaigns, political parties or partisan political groups.

• May attend political fundraising functions.

• May attend and be active at political rallies and meetings.

• May join and be an active member of political clubs or parties.

• May hold office in political clubs or parties.

• May sign and circulate nominating petitions.

• May campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments or municipal ordinances.

• May campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections.

• May make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections.

• May distribute campaign literature in partisan elections.

• May volunteer to work on a partisan political campaign.

• May express opinions about candidates and issues. If the expression is political activity, however— i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group — then the expression is not permitted while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle.

For a more detailed list of what political activity is and is not permitted, please visit the FAQ section of the Office of Special Counsel website dealing with the Hatch Act at https://osc.gov/Pages/HatchAct-FAQs.aspx.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Top

Login


Create an Account!
Forgot Password?

Create an Account!


Username
Want to Login?

Forgot Password?