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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 4/26/05***
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.