Playing politics: How to do it fair and square
September 27, 2012
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- One of the primary responsibilities we have as citizens of this great nation is to elect our leaders. The right to vote has been paid for dearly throughout our history. It is a right too precious to squander.
However, as federal employees, we have another responsibility to be fair and impartial in doing the business that the American people have entrusted to us.
To accomplish that goal of political impartiality, Congress passed the Hatch Act in 1939 to prevent political patronage within government and prohibit the use of a federal job for partisan gain.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees, including military members, from engaging in partisan political activity in uniform, on duty or in a government building, installation or vehicle.
The prohibitions are aimed at activity promoting a specific political party or a candidate in a partisan political election.
To accomplish this, federal employees are prohibited from:
• Being a candidate in a partisan election for public office
• Soliciting or receiving political contributions for a party or partisan candidate
• Wearing partisan political buttons or clothing on duty, in a government office, building or vehicle or while in uniform
• Soliciting or discouraging the political activity of anyone with business before the government
• Using your official position to influence or interfere with an election
Despite these restrictions, federal employee can actively participate in the political process.
We can do a variety of things to ensure our views are heard and votes count:
• Register and vote in elections
• Express opinions about candidates and issues in our capacity as private citizens
• Contribute to political organizations' parties and attend political fundraisers
• Attend political rallies and meetings off-duty and out of uniform
• Join, serve actively and hold office in a political party or club
• Campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections, including making campaign speeches and distributing campaign literature
• Campaign for or against referenda, constitutional amendments or ballot initiatives
• Run for public office in a non-partisan election
Democracy and representative government works best when citizens take their responsibilities seriously and participate fully in the process.
As federal employees, we, like our fellow citizens, have numerous opportunities to be involved. We only need to remember that we have an added responsibility to not use our job, official position or title to participate.
For more information on the Hatch Act and how to play politics fairly and squarely, please contact the Anniston Army Depot Legal Office at 256-235-6518. or consult the website of the Office of Special Counsel at http://www.osc.gov.