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

VA Employee Admits Violating Hatch Act
Veterans Affairs Employee Engaged in Campaign Activities
At Government Facility in Defiance of Law

CONTACT: LOREN SMITH, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has settled a complaint for disciplinary action against Eric Foster, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee in Columbus, Ohio, for violating the Hatch Act. Mr. Foster was charged with engaging in political activity while in a government room or building. OSC also alleged that Mr. Foster engaged in political activity despite his knowledge of Hatch Act prohibitions. OSC filed the complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) on February 14, 2006.

     As part of the settlement with OSC, Mr. Foster admitted that on July 29, 2004, he distributed campaign stickers supporting the candidacy of Senator John Kerry for President of the United States at the Chalmers P. Wylie Outpatient Clinic in Columbus, Ohio. Further, Mr. Foster admitted that his distribution of such materials while in a federal facility is a violation of the Hatch Act. Finally, Mr. Foster agreed to retire from his position no later than September 5, 2006.

     Special Counsel Scott Bloch said, “This case presents a cautionary tale. If you engage in political activity on government property or use government resources for partisan ends, OSC will prosecute.”

     The Hatch Act prohibits federal executive branch employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, in any room or building used for official duties by an individual employed or holding office in the U.S. government, while wearing a uniform or official insignia identifying the office or position of the employee, or using any vehicle owned or leased by the government. Political activity has been defined as activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for a partisan political office or partisan political group.

     The OSC provides advisory opinions on the Hatch Act and also enforces the provisions of the Act by filing petitions for disciplinary action. Employees who are charged with violations are entitled to a hearing before the MSPB. Under the Act, the presumptive penalty for a violation is removal from federal 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.



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 and abuse of authority. 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 (USERRA). For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-9855.