By Gajus /

Oversight Agency Reaches 5 Settlements With Federal Employees for Hatch Act Violations

The violations were by Veterans Affairs Department, Federal Aviation Administration and Agriculture Department employees. 

The independent agency that oversees civil service law announced on Monday it reached settlements with five federal employees who violated the Hatch Act.

The Office of Special Counsel said the violations occurred with employees at the Veterans Affairs Department, Federal Aviation Administration and Agriculture Department, from summer 2018 to October 2020. The Hatch Act limits the political activity of government employees while on the job. In each of the situations the employees admitted to violating the act. 

“At OSC, we take the Hatch Act seriously and expect federal employees to understand their obligations under the law,” said Special Counsel Henry Kerner in a statement to Government Executive. “Federal employees can reach out to OSC’s Hatch Act Unit at any time for advice about how they can stay in compliance.”

In one situation a VA employee took a Senate candidate and his campaign director around a VA facility. He/she previously received advice on the Hatch Act before this occurred. The now-retired employee agreed to pay a $1,000 fine. There were two other settlements for VA employees, which resulted in 25- and 7-day suspensions. 

Another case involved an FAA employee who “solicited political contributions for the union's political action committee from two other FAA employees while on duty and in the workplace,” said OSC. “The employee had prior knowledge of the Hatch Act and agreed to serve a 30-day unpaid suspension.”

The USDA employee posted various political messages on his personal Facebook account while on duty that showed opposition to a certain political party and presidential candidate. The employee knew this violated the act and was disciplined twice previously for similar conduct. The employee agreed to a 30-day unpaid suspension, as a result. 

The president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, but all career employees, Cabinet secretaries, White House aides, and other political appointees are subject to the law and the restrictions can vary based on position type.

There were many accusations and charges of Hatch Act violations during theTrump administration, especially involving situations during the Republication convention last summer.  

“As you know, there are some political events that are acceptable, but we certainly take the Hatch Act seriously, and we'll abide by that,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a briefing on the Biden administration’s second day in office. “You will not see a political rally on the South Lawn of the White House under President Biden.

Update: This article has been updated with comment from Special Counsel Henry Kerner.