OSC Hits Feds on Both Sides of the Aisle With Hatch Act Violations

By Charles S. Clark

April 29, 2014

Boosting or trashing a presidential candidate while on the job has landed two federal employees in hot water, the Office of Special Counsel announced on Tuesday in a release on violations of the Hatch Act.

An unidentified Federal Election Commission attorney reached a settlement and resigned in April after his agency referred to the governmentwide special counsel and the FEC inspector general evidence that the employee had posted “dozens of partisan political tweets, including many soliciting campaign contributions to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and other political campaigns.”

The employee, who admitted to the violations, also participated in a Huffington Post Live webcam broadcast from an FEC facility, during which he criticized the Republican Party and then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Under the settlement, the attorney is barred from seeking federal employment for two years.

In the second case, a civilian Air Force employee while on duty sent “numerous partisan political emails using a government account to a list of as many as 60 federal employees” in the months leading up to the 2012 election, the OSC reported. All were “in opposition” to the candidacy of President Obama and the Democratic Party. The emails continued even after the employee was warned by his supervisors to stop, and the employee confirmed awareness that the behavior violated the Hatch Act and that an investigation had been launched.

The behavior had prompted complaints of a “poor work ethic” to supervisors from co-workers, one of whom asked to be transferred to another office.

The employee received a 40-day suspension without pay.

“These two cases are examples of how government agencies can work together to ensure partisan politics stay out of the federal workplace,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner, in a statement.

By Charles S. Clark

April 29, 2014