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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
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 Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

OSC: 40-Day Suspension For Hatch Act Violator
Federal Employee in Colorado Promoted Political Candidate to Coworkers

CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov

WASHINGTON, DC – A federal employee has been suspended for 40 days without pay for a violation of the Hatch Act. The employee had distributed a partisan political email to coworkers encouraging attendance at an event with a candidate for partisan political office. The suspension is the outcome of an informal settlement between the employee, the employee’s agency, and the U. S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

     An independent watchdog agency, OSC enforces the Hatch Act, a law that limits political activity by federal employees. The Hatch Act is designed to protect the Merit System and preserve the nonpartisan nature of government.

     The employee sent a partisan political email to 27 work colleagues while on duty and in the federal workplace. The email invited recipients to a party the employee was co-hosting where a candidate for Colorado Secretary of State would be a special guest. The message described the candidate in favorable terms, contained a link to the candidate’s campaign website, and stated that it would be a “treat” to hear the candidate speak.

     After investigating, OSC found that the employee violated the Hatch Act by engaging in political activity while on duty and/or in a federal building.

     The Hatch Act prohibits federal executive branch employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, in any room or building used for official duties by an individual employed or holding office in the U.S. government, while wearing a uniform or official insignia identifying the office or position of the employee, or using any vehicle owned or leased by the government. Political activity is defined as activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for a partisan political office or partisan political group. Under the Act, the presumptive penalty for a violation is removal from federal employment. However, upon a unanimous vote of its members, the Merit Systems Protection Board can mitigate the penalty to no less than a 30-day suspension without pay.

     The U.S. Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, noted that workplace communication tools, such as e-mail that make it easier for employees to communicate, can increase the opportunities for them to violate the Hatch Act. “Employees need to be aware that punishment for a Hatch Act violation, could be only a few keystrokes away”



The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1 (800) 872-9855.

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