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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced two settlement agreements reached with federal employees charged with violating the Hatch Act. A summary of each case is below:
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):
A DOL political appointee was both on duty and acting in her official capacity when she participated in a teleconference with employees from a private organization. During the call, she asked one of the employees whom that employee was supporting in the upcoming gubernatorial election in that employee's home state. She then expressed her support for one of the candidates.
The interaction violated the Hatch Act's prohibition against engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal room or building and the prohibition against using one's official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election. The employee agreed to settle the case by accepting a 10-day suspension without pay for violating the Hatch Act.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):
OSC filed a complaint for disciplinary action with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board alleging that a VA employee violated the Hatch Act by soliciting a political contribution on a social media account. The social media post read, in part, “Give $20 NOW to [a candidate's] campaign . . . I did! Join me . . . $20."
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving a political contribution. The employee agreed to settle the case by accepting a three-day suspension without pay.