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One Congressman wants recent Hatch Act guidance from OSC rescinded, saying it could “have a chilling impact on federal employees.”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

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.