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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced settlement agreements reached with three federal employees who violated the Hatch Act. A summary of the violations and settlements is below:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
OSC filed a complaint for disciplinary action with the Merit Systems Protection Board charging a rural mail carrier in California with violating three provisions of the Hatch Act when, in August 2020, she intentionally removed and discarded 66 pieces of presorted deliverable mail intended for delivery on her route because the pieces were sent by a political party or the campaign of a candidate for partisan political office. According to the complaint, the carrier placed the mail in an undeliverable mail bin from which it would have been thrown away, but an attentive employee at the post office noticed an unusual quantity of political mail in the bin and alerted a postmaster. In a settlement agreement, the carrier admitted that OSC would have been able to prove that she violated three provisions of the Hatch Act—the prohibitions on engaging in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace and the prohibition on using one's official authority to interfere with or affect the results of an election. The carrier agreed to resign from USPS and accept a one-year debarment from federal employment as a penalty for violating the Hatch Act.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):
A VA employee in Pennsylvania ran in the 2021 election for township commissioner, a partisan political office, but did not actively campaign in either the primary or general election. The employee won the election but declined to accept the office after being warned by OSC that her candidacy was in violation of the Hatch Act. The case settled for a formal letter of reprimand.
U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA):
A DISA employee posted 12 partisan political Facebook messages while at work that were directed at the success or failure of political parties and/or candidates for partisan political office. The activity took place over a one-year period, between May 2020 and May 2021. The case settled for a three-day unpaid suspension.