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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
 Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

OSC Statement Regarding the Cases of Special Counsel v. Sims and Special Counsel v. Davis

CONTACT: CATHY DEEDS, 202-254-3600
      On April 14, 2005, an Administrative Law Judge of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued an Initial Decision dismissing the above-referenced cases. The Office of Special Counsel will be appealing this decision to the full board.

      In 1993 Congress substantially amended the Hatch Act for the first time in more than 50 years, greatly expanding the role that federal employees can play in partisan political campaigns. The Congressional opponents of this new approach were greatly concerned that it would result in politicization of the federal workplace.

      In response to this concern, Congress strictly prohibited political activity for federal employees while they are on duty and in federal buildings.

      The enforcement actions at issue were brought pursuant to these restrictions. The actions of these employees were akin to using government resources to engage in political leafleting at the workplace, an activity that we believe is clearly prohibited by the 1993 amendments to the Act. By now, most federal employees should be well aware of their responsibility not to advocate for a specific political candidate while on duty and using their government e-mail account.

     This action by OSC is consistent with our 2002 Advisory Opinion referred to in the Initial Decision. Special Counsel Scott Bloch stated, “It is important that federal employees comply with their duties to refrain from using their offices and government computers to advocate for votes for their preferred candidates, while on the job. We will be filing a petition for review of this Initial Decision and request the MSPB to reverse it.”


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.