OSC Seal

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

OSC ANNOUNCES MSPB RULING GRANTING DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR VIOLATION OF HATCH ACT


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 8/25/98
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
(202) 653-7984      

    Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that on August 18, 1998, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ruled in favor of OSCís petition for disciplinary action under the Hatch Political Activities Act, commonly known as the Hatch Act. The MSPB found Grady L. Bilberry, a Supervisory Agricultural Program Specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, guilty of violating the pre-1994 version of the Hatch Act, which prohibited federal employees from taking an active part in political campaigns. The MSPB imposed a 120-day suspension as a penalty for the violation.

    Under the Hatch Act provisions in force in 1992, it was unlawful for federal employees to take an active part in political management of partisan campaigns. The MSPB found that Mr. Bilberry violated the Act by soliciting and receiving contributions from subordinate employees for the Farmers and Ranchers 92 Political Action Committee (PAC), which was established to raise contributions for the Democratic Presidential candidate in the November 1992 general election. 

    While Mr. Bilberry was charged under the Hatch Act in effect in 1992, his solicitation of contributions for the PAC would violate provisions of current law. The Hatch Act was amended in 1994 to allow for federal employeesí voluntary participation in the management of partisan political campaigns. However, the right of those employees to engage in any political fundraising activity is still strictly limited. Under current law, federal employees may not solicit political contributions from anyone except that they may solicit other members of their employee organization, who are not subordinate employees, to contribute to the organizationís multi-candidate political action committee. Any such solicitations must occur off-duty and away from the federal work site.

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency. It investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging violations of the Hatch Act, and provides advisory opinions on the Actís requirements. It also receives, investigates, and prosecutes before the MSPB, charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, with priority given to protecting whistleblowers. In addition, the Office provides a secure channel for federal employees who possess information regarding legal violations, gross mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.

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