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Sept. 19 — A sign that said “Make America Great Again”—the slogan for Republican Donald Trump’s campaign for president—has been removed from a post office in Colorado after the U.S. Office of Special Counsel contacted the facility’s postmaster, the OSC said.
The OSC told the postmaster that the sign’s display by an employee violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal workers from engaging in partisan political activity while on duty or in the workplace, the agency said in a statement Sept. 19.
The Trump-supporting U.S. Postal Service employee is not the only federal worker who has heard from the OSC, the agency said. This is one of several recently resolved cases involving federal employees who have improperly posted displays in their workplace expressing support for or opposition to partisan election candidates.
Other cases involve:
There are a limited number of exceptions to the Hatch Act.
For example, the OSC said, federal employees are allowed to have one bumper sticker per candidate on a car parked in an agency parking lot, as long as the car doesn’t appear to be “a campaign mobile.”
Federal employees are also allowed to display historical memorabilia involving individuals who aren’t currently up for election, the OSC said.
“In the last few months of the presidential election season, these cases are reminders to all federal employees to refrain from engaging in partisan political activity in the workplace,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in the agency’s statement. “We want federal employees to be involved in the political process, but they must wait until they’re off the clock and out of the office to express support or opposition to partisan candidates or political groups.”
OSC spokesman Nick Schwellenbach told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 19 that the agency wouldn’t provide additional information, such as written decisions, for the cases described in its statement.
The OSC describes itself as an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency with a primary mission of protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices. According to the OSC, its basic authorities come from four federal statutes—the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
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