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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
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U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL REACHES DISCIPLINARY ACTION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN HATCH ACT CASE AGAINST DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ATTORNEY


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3/23/05
CONTACT: CATHY DEEDS, 202-254-3600
                 cdeeds@osc.gov

      WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has reached a voluntary settlement in a Hatch Act case involving an attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the employee will serve a short suspension and the DOJ has agreed to provide OSC Hatch Act training to employees within the Civil Division.

     The employee admitted that he violated the Hatch Act by co-hosting a political fundraiser in violation of 5 U.S.C. 7323(a)(2), which prohibits knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving political contributions. Seven invitees attended the fundraiser. The employee self-reported the violation and denies that he willfully violated the Hatch Act.

     The Hatch Act prohibits most federal employees from seeking nomination or election to a partisan political office; soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions; using their official authority to interfere with the results of an election; and engaging in political activity while on duty, among other things. OSC provides advisory opinions on the Hatch Act and also enforces the provisions of the Act by filing petitions for disciplinary action.

     Federal employees who are charged with violations of the Act are entitled to a hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Under the Act, the presumptive penalty for a violation is removal from employment. However, upon a unanimous vote of its members, the MSPB can mitigate the penalty to no less than a 30-day suspension without pay. Employees have the right to appeal the MSPB’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.


 

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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-9855.