U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
Federal Hatch Act Advisory:
D.C. Employee Serving as an Officer of a Campaign Committee
Re: OSC File No. AD-04-xxxx
Dear Mr. __________:
This letter is in response to your request for an
advisory opinion concerning the Hatch Act and how District of Columbia
employees may become involved with partisan campaigns. The Office of Special
Counsel is authorized pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1212(f) to issue binding
opinions under the Act. Below we have set forth your specific questions
followed by our response.
1. Does the Hatch Act
permit a District of Columbia employee to serve as a paid campaign
consultant or as a paid campaign manager?
Most Hatch Act covered employees, including
District of Columbia employees, are permitted to take an active part in
partisan political management and partisan political campaigns. 5 U.S.C. §
7323(a). Therefore, a District of Columbia employee, in his personal
capacity, may serve as an officer of a candidate’s campaign committee as
long as he does not personally solicit, accept or receive political
contributions. 5 C.F.R.
§ 734.204, Example 4. Additionally, the District of Columbia employee may
not use his official title or make reference to his position as a District
of Columbia government employee when serving as a campaign consultant or
manager, or while engaging in any other partisan political activity. 5 C.F.R.
Please be advised that this opinion is limited to
what is permissible or prohibited under the Hatch Act. Thus, although the
Act would not prohibit the District of Columbia employee from serving as a
paid campaign consultant or a paid campaign manager, there may be other
laws, rules, or regulations governing this type of outside employment.
Therefore, the District of Columbia employee should seek further guidance
from his agency’s ethics office.
2. May a District of
Columbia employee perform partisan campaign related duties during the course
of the employee’s normal business work day?
Although the Hatch Act permits District of
Columbia employees to take an active part in partisan political management
and political campaigns, the Act prohibits employees from engaging in
political activity: (1) while on duty; (2) in any room or building occupied
in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed or holding
office in the Government of the United States or any agency or
instrumentality thereof; (3) while wearing a uniform or official insignia
identifying the office or position of the employee; or (4) in any vehicle
owned or leased by the Government of the United States or any agency or
instrumentality thereof. 5 U.S.C. § 7324(a). Political activity is defined
as “an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party,
candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” 5
C.F.R. § 734.101.
Based on the above, a District of Columbia
employee may not perform partisan campaign duties during the course of the
employee’s normal business day if the employee is: (1) on duty; (2) in any
room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an
individual employed or holding office in the Government of the United States
or any agency or instrumentality thereof; or (3) wearing an official uniform
or insignia. Please be advised that an employee is “on duty” when the
employee is: (1) in a pay status other than paid leave or other authorized
absence; or (2) representing the District of Columbia government in an
For example, an employee may stuff envelopes for
a partisan candidate while the employee is sitting in a park during his
lunch period if he is not considered to be on duty during his lunch period.
5 C.F.R. § 734.306, Example 13. However, an employee may not write campaign
speeches, make political calls, or send political emails on behalf of a
partisan candidate or political party while the employee is in any room or
building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual
employed or holding office in the Government of the United States or any
agency or instrumentality thereof, even if he is not “on duty” for purposes
of the Hatch Act.
3. May a District of
Columbia employee take leave without pay or annual leave to work full time
for a partisan campaign in a paid capacity?
As described above, the Hatch Act would not
prohibit a District of Columbia employee from working full time for a
partisan campaign in a paid capacity. The Act, however, imposes certain
restrictions as to when and where a covered employee may engage in such
political activity. Also, even if the employee is on annual leave or leave
without pay, he is still subject to the restrictions of the Hatch Act. Thus,
even when an employee is in an approved leave status, he is prohibited from
soliciting, accepting or receiving contributions on behalf of a partisan
candidate or political party. Moreover, an employee on leave continues to be
prohibited from using his official authority or influence to affect the
result of an election.
Please be advised that the decision to grant an
employee annual leave or leave without pay is a determination that is made
exclusively by the employing agency. Lastly, as indicated above, we would
suggest that the employee contact his agency’s ethics office to discuss any
other agency rules or regulations governing outside employment activities.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at
Amber A. Bell
Hatch Act Unit
1Some federal employees continue to be prohibited from actively
participating in partisan political management and political campaigns.
See 5 U.S.C. § 7323(b).