These Three Federal Employees Landed in Hot Water Over Hatch Act Violations
The Office of Special Counsel announced settlements over violations at the U.S. Postal Service, Veterans Affairs Department and U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency.
The independent agency that oversees civil service law announced on Thursday settlements with three federal employees who violated the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act limits the political activity of government employees while on the job. The employees in the Office of Special Counsel’s announcement were at the U.S. Postal Service, Veterans Affairs Department and U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency at the time of their violations.
U.S. Postal Service
OSC filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board for disciplinary action charging a mail carrier in California for violating three provisions of the Hatch Act.
“In August 2020, she intentionally removed and discarded 66 pieces of presorted deliverable mail intended for delivery on her route because the pieces were sent by a political party or the campaign of a candidate for partisan political office,” said OSC’s press release. “According to the complaint, the carrier placed the mail in an undeliverable mail bin from which it would have been thrown away, but an attentive employee at the post office noticed an unusual quantity of political mail in the bin and alerted a postmaster.”
The carrier admitted in the settlement agreement that OSC could prove she violated the Hatch Act’ provisions prohibiting federal employees from taking part in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace and prohibiting employees’ use of “official authority to interfere with or affect the results of an election.”
The carrier agreed to resign and accept a one year-debarment from working for the federal government as a penalty.
Veterans Affairs Department
In 2021, a VA employee in Pennsylvania ran for township commissioner, a partisan political office, but didn't campaign actively in either the primary or general elections.
“The employee won the election, but declined to accept the office after being warned by OSC that her candidacy was in violation of the Hatch Act,” said OSC. “The case settled for a formal letter of reprimand.”
A DISA employee, whose state was not listed, posted 12 partisan political messages on Facebook while at work, which were aimed directly at either the success or failure of the political parties and/or candidates for that office. This happened over a year ago, between May 2020 and May 2021. “The case settled for a three-day unpaid suspension,” said OSC.
Other Recent Hatch Act News
The Merit Systems Protection Board’s central board, which recently regained a quorum, ruled in April that Rodney Cowan could keep both his job at the Postal Service and position as county commissioner in Tennessee without running afoul of the Hatch Act.
However, later that month, OSC said this was an “unusual situation” and it “does not intend to enter into any settlement agreements that would allow an employee who violates the Hatch Act by running for a partisan political office to keep both their elected position and their federal employment.”