Text of Overview of the HATCH ACT: Political Activity and the Postal Employee USPS Law Department 2004
Overview of the HATCH ACT: Political Activity and the Postal Employee USPS Law Department 2004
HATCH ACT The Hatch Act* is a federal law that restricts the political activity of federal and postal employees. Employees are covered by the Hatch Act restrictions even while off duty. * 5 USC 7321-7326 (also 5 CFR parts 733-734)
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION Why do you need to know about this? The penalties for violating the Hatch Act are serious.
PENALITIES FOR VIOLATION An employee who is shown to have violated the Hatch Act may, by order of the Merit Systems Protection Board, be removed from his/her postal position, or suspended for a minimum of 30 days.
POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: DOs Postal employees may: n Be candidates for public office in non-partisan elections n Take an active role in managing the political campaign of a partisan candidate (but certain fundraising and solicitation prohibitions apply) n Attend political fundraising functions (in employees personal capacity)
POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: DOs Postal employees may also: n Attend political fundraising functions (in personal capacity) n Contribute personal funds to political organizations and campaigns n Assist in voter registration drives n Sign nominating petitions n Hold office in political clubs or parties
POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: DONTs Postal employees may not: n Be candidates for public office in partisan elections n Engage in political activity while on duty, or in any government office, or while wearing an official uniform, or while using a government vehicle n Wear political buttons on duty n Display political bumper stickers on official vehicles or while using a POV as an official postal vehicle
POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: DONTs Postal employees also may not: n Personally solicit political contributions from any person, make speeches to solicit such contributions, or host fundraising events n Collect or receive political contributions, unless both collector and donor are members of the same federal labor organization, and the one solicited is not a subordinate
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: At what point am I considered to be a candidate for public office? Answer: Earlier than you might think n When you begin to fundraise n When you make an announcement to the media n When you begin to collect signatures for a nominating petition n When you file nominating petitions n When you assemble a campaign committee
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: May I make a contribution to the campaign of a partisan candidate, or to a political party or organization? Answer: Yes. You may contribute personal funds to the campaign of a partisan candidate, or to a political party or organization.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: I have a Bush 2004 bumper sticker on my personal vehicle. Can I park it in a postal lot or garage, or in a private lot/garage where the USPS subsidizes my parking fees? Answer: Yes. You may park your privately owned vehicle with its partisan bumper sticker in a postal or private lot or garage. However, if you use your vehicle to perform official postal duties, avoid affixing partisan stickers to it.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: May I help organize a political fundraiser? Answer: You may organize a political fundraiser in your personal capacity, including supplying names for the invitation list, as long as you do not personally solicit, accept, or receive contributions.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: Can my name appear on invitations to a political fundraiser as a sponsor or point of contact? Answer: No. Your name may not be shown as a sponsor or point of contact on an invitation to such a fundraiser, or on any materials publicizing or promoting the fundraiser.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: May I speak at a political fundraiser? Answer: Yes, in your personal capacity. You may give a speech or keynote address at a political fundraiser, as long as you are not on duty, not in uniform, and you do not solicit or encourage political contributions.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: If I agree to be a speaker at a political fundraiser, what information about me can be printed on the invitations? Answer: You may be listed as a guest speaker. However, the reference should not in any way suggest that you are soliciting or encouraging contributions, and may not include your official title or the fact that you work for the Postal Service.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: May I attend a state or national party convention? If so, in what capacity? Answer: Yes. You may serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a state or national party convention. Because you may not be a candidate in a partisan race, be it local, state, or national, you may not attend a convention in this capacity.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: If I run as a candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election, does the Hatch Act allow me to ask for and accept political contributions? Answer: As a candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election, you will not be barred by the Hatch Act from soliciting, accepting, or receiving political contributions for your own campaign.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: May I distribute brochures for a political party to people arriving at a polling place on Election Day? Answer: Yes. You may, on your own time and out of uniform, stand outside a polling place on Election Day and hand out brochures on behalf of a partisan political candidate or political party.
HATCH ACT Q&A Question: I am a Temporary Rural Carrier for the Postal Service. May I run for public office in a partisan election? Answer: No. The Civil Service Commission has long held that [t]emporary, part-time, and emergency employees are subject to [the Hatch Act]. While you are a postal employee, you may run for office only in a nonpartisan election.
ENFORCEMENT OF THE HATCH ACT The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent federal agency, is responsible for enforcement of the Hatch Act. Allegations of Hatch Act violations by postal employees that come to the Law Departments attention are typically forwarded to OSC.
HATCH ACT INFORMATION & RESOURCES The OSC website is a good source of information about Hatch Act restrictions: www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm Find more information on the General Counsel portion of the postal intranet site by following the Ethics links: http://blue.usps.gov/uspslaw/
HATCH ACT INFORMATION & POSTAL RESOURCES Advice regarding political activities may be sought from: Your Area Law Office or HQ ethics advisors (202) 268-6346 (Ethics Helpline) or email: Ethics Help (internal) and firstname.lastname@example.org (external). email@example.com