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DoDEA OGC - Political Activity

Political Activity and the Federal Employee

The Hatch Act

The Hatch Act limits certain political activities of Federal employees both on and off duty. (Members of the Senior Executive Service, are subject to further restrictions and should contact the General Counsel's office for additional guidance.) Violations of the Hatch Act may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal.

The term "political activity" means doing something in active support of or opposition to a political party, a candidate for partisan political office (e.g., President, senator, representative, state or local legislature or office), or a partisan political group (e.g., "Historians for Smith").

Examples of political activity that would violate the Hatch Act if done while on duty or using Government property include:

  • circulating a candidate's nominating petition within your office;
  • using the PC in your office after work to produce a brochure in support of a candidate's campaign;
  • sending e-mail invitations to campaign events to friends within the agency;
  • and using Government Internet connections to forward e-mail messages received from a partisan campaign or someone supporting a partisan candidate.
Permissible political activity under the Hatch Act would include:
  • voting for the candidates of your choice;
  • expressing opinions about candidates and issues;
  • assisting in voter registration drives.

Permitted and Prohibited Activities For Employees Who May Engage in Partisan Political Management and Campaigns1


Employees 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.
    • 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 invite others to a political fundraiser.
    • May not collect contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions.2
  • 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 distribute campaign materials or items.
    • 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.

 

Employees May...
  • 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.

 

The "Political Activity and the Federal Employee" booklet summarizes the laws, regulations and policies governing the political activities of federal employees and employees of the District of Columbia government. It provides a basic overview of permissible and prohibited political activities. It explains who is covered under the Hatch Act, Permitted and Prohibited Activities for Employees Who May Engage in Partisan Activity

Employees should not rely on the opinions of friends or co-workers when they have questions with regard to a specific political activity. Ignorance of the law does not excuse an employee's violation of the Hatch Act. Reliance on incorrect or unofficial information also does not excuse a violation.


1This list of permitted and prohibited activities does not apply to federal employees in the following agencies, divisions, or positions:

  • Election Assistance Commission
  • Federal Election Commission
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  • National Security Agency
  • National Security Council
  • National Security Division (Department of Justice)
  • Criminal Division (Department of Justice)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Secret Service
  • Office of Criminal Investigation (Internal Revenue Service)
  • Office of Investigative Programs (Customs Service)
  • Office of Law Enforcement (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacc and Firearms)
  • Merit Systems Protection Board
  • U.S. Office of Special Counsel
  • Career members of the Senior Executive Service
  • Administrative law judges, administrative appeals judges, and contract appeals board members


2 Soliciting, accepting, or receiving such donations or contributions may be done so long as the person being solicited is: 1) a member of the same federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))); 2) not a subordinate employee; and 3) the solicitation is for a contribution to the multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))) of such federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of the enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2) U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))).