Congressman Wants OSC to Rescind its Latest Hatch Act Guidance

One Congressman wants recent Hatch Act guidance from OSC rescinded, saying it could “have a chilling impact on federal employees.”

One lawmaker is asking the Office of Special Counsel to rescind the Hatch Act guidance it issued recently, saying that it is a “radical departure from past guidance.”

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to OSC Special Counsel Henry Kerner and said that he thinks the guidance may be unconstitutional and could “have a chilling impact on federal employees.”

Cummings called the guidance “wrong” with respect to criticizing the policy of a sitting president and said that it is only a Hatch Act violation if federal employees advocate for or against the success or failure of a political party. He cited a quote from OSC’s website to make his case on this point.

Cummings also disagreed with OSC telling federal employees to be careful about using terms such as “#Resist” when in the workplace, thereby potentially engaging in political activity.

“Resist is a term that can be used in many different contexts. OSC’s guidance assumes that using a generic term that is not used as an official campaign slogan for any current partisan political candidate is political activity. Just because the term is sometimes used to reference a political philosophy does not make it political activity,” wrote Cummings.

He called for a briefing and also requested various documents from OSC related to the recent Hatch Act guidance.

OSC initially issued its recent guidance on November 27 and then later issued a second memo in which it clarified some of the aspects of its original guidance.

A copy of his letter is included below.

2018-12-07 Cummings Letter to OSC

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.