“The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state, county, or municipal executive agencies who have duties in connection with programs financed in whole or part by federal loans or grants.
A covered employee may not use his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election, or coerce or attempt to coerce covered employees to contribute anything of value to a person for political purposes.
When the Merit Systems Protection Board finds that a State or local employee has violated the Hatch Act and that the violation warrants removal of the employee, the employing agency must dismiss the employee or forfeit a portion of the federal funds, equal to two years’ salary of the employee. The employee may also not be reappointed to a state or local position in that state for the following eighteen (18) months.” SOURCE
Is it okay for an elected official who is covered by the Hatch Act to ask subordinate employees to help with his reelection campaign?
Answer: No. While elected officials are exempt from the candidacy prohibition of the Hatch Act, they are still subject to the other two prohibitions – the prohibitions against using one’s official authority to affect the result of an election and directly or indirectly coercing a state or local employee to make a political contribution. Because it is inherently coercive for a supervisor to ask a subordinate employee to contribute to a political cause, the Hatch Act would prohibit an elected official form asking subordinate employees to help or contribute to his reelection campaign.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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