Are feds really free to make campaign contributions?

Thinkstock

Last week’s dust-up over a Congressional Research Service analysis of the economic impact of tax cuts has thrown a light on the issue of whether government employees really are free to make campaign contributions.

Thomas Hungerford, a CRS public finance specialist, wrote a technical report released in September titled “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945.”

Congressional Republicans objected to his conclusion that cutting taxes does little to spur economic growth, his methodology and a tone they considered politicized. CRS leaders agreed to withdraw the study.

But in the nontechnical political debate that followed, conservative critics of Hungerford’s work -- which layers of CRS superiors reviewed -- zeroed in on the fact that he has donated at least $5,000 during this election cycle to President Obama’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the two congressional Democratic campaign committees.

Government Executive’s inquiries to CRS, the congressional ethics panels, the Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Special Counsel produced a consensus that Hungerford’s campaign gifts are within his rights and that he faces no retaliation.

According to Gayle Osterberg, communications director for CRS’ parent, the Library of Congress, “under library regulations, employees are allowed to make financial contributions to a political party or organization. The Library of Congress is part of the legislative branch of the U.S. government; the legislative branch is not subject to the Hatch Act. However, it is noteworthy that even executive branch employees covered by the Hatch Act are able to make political contributions.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.