Commerce Supervisor's Fundraising Activities Ran Afoul of Hatch Act

Special Counsel says Republican was warned against seeking political contributions.

A supervisor in the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security agreed to a 50-day unpaid suspension after acknowledging that he solicited contributions to a suburban Maryland Republican party fundraiser while on the job.

The Office of Special Counsel on Tuesday announced that the unidentified federal employee had been given Hatch Act guidance when he accepted a position on the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and on numerous other occasions. That included warnings that he should not solicit political contributions at any time while in federal service, even while off duty.

Yet investigators found that while in his Commerce office, the employee communicated with Maryland Republican candidates and their central committee to assist in campaigns.

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“In violation of the 24/7 statutory ban on soliciting contributions for partisan candidates or groups, the employee invited approximately 100 people to a party fundraiser in 2014 and asked them to mail checks to his home address in order to attend,” OSC stated.

“This case is a prime example of what the Hatch Act is meant to stop,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in the statement.

The violation is the latest in a series that OSC has highlighted as cautionary tales to federal employees during election season. Last week the special counsel noted it had forced three federal employees to remove illegal campaign paraphernalia from their federal work facilities.