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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced a settlement agreement reached with a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employee who violated the Hatch Act when she provided a guided tour of a radioactive waste treatment plant in Washington State to a candidate for U.S. Congress. The purpose of the tour, which was not open to the general public, was to provide the candidate with information for her campaign. The candidate had repeatedly sought a tour of the plant to demonstrate her familiarity with the project to potential voters. However, citing potential Hatch Act violations, DOE denied her requests.
In its November 8, 2019 complaint filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), OSC deemed the employee's actions to be a flagrant Hatch Act violation because she knew that DOE had previously denied the candidate's tour requests. Moreover, just three days before she gave the tour, the employee received a reminder about how such a tour could violate the Hatch Act. Despite having this information, the employee unilaterally used her official authority to give the tour. Information and photographs from the tour were then used to further the candidate's campaign.
After OSC's complaint was filed, the employee voluntarily resigned from her employment at DOE as of January 4, 2020. As part of the settlement agreement, she admitted to violating the Hatch Act and agreed to a 3-year debarment from federal employment.