Hatch Act Dos and Don'ts

September 24, 1996

Hatch Act Dos and Don'ts

Revisions of the Hatch Act have made it possible for many federal employees to take an active role in this year's presidential campaigns. Here's a brief guide to the new rules--and information on where to get help interpreting them.

Under the amendments to the Hatch Act passed in 1993, federal employees may now take part in a much wider range of political activities than they could in the past. Earlier this year, just in time for the presidential campaign season, the Office of Personnel Management issued final rules detailing activities open to federal employees as well as those they must avoid.

Federal employees may:

  • Serve as officers of political parties, committees or groups, or run as candidates for these positions.
  • Attend political party conventions as delegates, alternates or proxies.
  • Address conventions, caucuses or rallies in support of political candidates.
  • Stuff envelopes, make phone calls, distribute campaign literature and drive voters to the polls on behalf of political candidates.
  • Take an active part in managing political campaigns.
  • Solicit, accept and receive political contributions for the multi-candidate political committee of a federal labor or employee organization from other federal employees who are not subordinates, and who belong to the same federal labor or employee organization.

Federal employees may not:

  • Run for public office in partisan elections.
  • Solicit, accept or receive political contributions from the public.
  • Become personally involved with fund-raising activities.
  • Take part in any political activities while they are on duty, on federal premises, in a federally owned or leased motor vehicle; or wearing a uniform or badge that identifies them as federal employees.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has added a Hatch Act assistance area to its web site. The area includes a frequently asked questions section and explains the OSC's enforcement role.

In addition, Federal employees can have their Hatch Act questions answered via e-mail to hatchact@osc.gov.

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