The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has received numerous questions from federal employees about the status of President Trump as a candidate in 2020. As a result, the agency has released guidance for the federal workforce as to what impact the 2020 election has on the Hatch Act.
Trump filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish that he is a candidate in the 2020 election, although this is not considered an official declaration of running. That apparently triggered a rash of questions from federal employees who were wondering what Trump’s status as a candidate in 2020 meant for purposes of the Hatch Act.
OSC says in the memo that because the next election is over three years away, “at this time not all expressions of support or opposition to President Trump constitute political activity for purposes of the Hatch Act.”
By way of example, the memo said one instance of prohibited activity would be that federal employees cannot advocate for or against Trump’s reelection in 2020 while on duty or in the workplace. That includes the use of email and social media.
OSC says, however, that federal employees could wear or display pictures of the president or his 2016 campaign items while at work.
The memo then adds:
As with past Presidents running for reelection, once President Trump officially announces that he is a candidate in the 2020 election, the Hatch Act will prohibit federal employees while on duty or in the workplace from, for example, wearing or displaying pictures or other items, or engaging in communications, that are directed at the success or failure of his candidacy.
A copy of the OSC memo is included below.