General Counsel

Hatch Act and Political Activities

The Hatch Act limits certain political activities of Federal employees both on and off duty. (Members of the Senior Executive Service, are subject to further restrictions and should contact the General Counsel's office for additional guidance.) Violations of the Hatch Act may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal.

The term "political activity" means doing something in active support of or opposition to a political party, a candidate for partisan political office (e.g., President, senator, representative, state or local legislature or office), or a partisan political group (e.g., "Historians for Smith"). Examples of political activity that would violate the Hatch Act if done while on duty or using Government property include: circulating a candidate's nominating petition within your office; using the PC in your office after work to produce a brochure in support of a candidate's campaign; sending e-mail invitations to campaign events to friends within the agency; and using National Archives' Internet connections to forward e-mail messages received from a partisan campaign or someone supporting a partisan candidate. Permissible political activity under the Hatch Act would include voting for the candidates of your choice; expressing opinions about candidates and issues; assisting in voter registration drives.

For a more comprehensive view of what the Hatch Act allows and disallows, please review the list of Hatch Act Do's and Don'ts shown below. Questions concerning the Hatch Act may be directed to Christopher Runkel, Office of General Counsel, either by telephone at 301-837-1750, by fax at 301-837-0293, or by e-mail addressed to "ethics@nara.gov."


Summary of Hatch Act Provisions

As a National Archives employee you MAY: As a National Archives employee you may NOT:
  • Vote as you choose

  • Register as a member of a political party

  • Join and be an active member of a political party or club

  • Express opinions about candidates and issues

  • Attend and be active at political rallies, conventions, and meetings

  • Contribute money to political candidates and organizations

  • Attend political fund raising functions

  • Give a speech at a fund raiser so long as the speech does not include an appeal for political contributions

  • Hold office in political clubs or parties so long as the duties do not involve personal solicitation, acceptance, or receipt of political contributions

  • Campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections

  • Campaign for or against referendum questions, ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments, and municipal ordinances

  • Sign nominating petitions, make nominations, or place a name in a nomination at a nominating caucus

  • Assist in voter registration drives, including serving in a polling place

  • Serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a state or national party convention

  • Distribute campaign literature in partisan elections

  • Run as a candidate for public office in nonpartisan elections

  • Run as an independent candidate in a partisan election in certain, OPM-specified jurisdictions

  • Manage or otherwise work on a partisan political campaign of a candidate for public office, except for activities involving the direct solicitation, acceptance, or receipt of funds

  • Serve as poll watcher, election judge, clerk or similar official

  • Drive voters to polling places for a partisan political candidate
  • Engage in political activity while on duty

  • Engage in political activity while wearing an official Government uniform or identifying National Archives insignia

  • Engage in political activity while using a Government vehicle

  • Engage in political activity in any Government office

  • Engage in political activity while using Government property, including computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, and telephones

  • Wear political buttons while on duty

  • Display items (e.g., posters, signs, stickers) at work that indicate support of or opposition to a political party or a candidate in a partisan election

  • Run as a candidate for public office in any partisan election, except in jurisdictions specified by OPM

  • Solicit, accept, or receive political contributions (except in limited circumstances involving certain Federal labor or employee organizations)

  • Solicit, accept, or receive political contributions from a subordinate employee

  • Allow your official title to be used in connection with fund raising activities

  • Host a fund raiser at your home

  • Use your official authority or influence to interfere with an election

  • Knowingly solicit or discourage the political activity of any person who has business before the National Archives

Important Definitions:

Nonpartisan election An election in which none of the candidates may run as a Democrat or Republican, or an election involving a question or issue that is not specifically identified with a political party (e.g., state constitutional amendments, referendums, ballot initiatives, bond issues, or municipal ordinances).

Partisan election or partisan political office Any election for public office in which at least one person is running as a Democrat or Republican.

Partisan political group A committee, club, or other organization which is affiliated with a political party or a candidate for public office in a partisan election, or organized for the purpose of supporting or opposing the activities of a political party.

Political activity Doing something in active support of or opposition to a political party, a candidate in a partisan election, or a partisan political group.


Notes:

Some National Archives employees may have additional rights under the Hatch Act. This latter category includes persons with "Schedule C" appointments and non career SES employees. For questions, contact the General Counsel's office.

This summary provides general guidance only. Employees with specific questions should contact the General Counsel's office or the Office of Special Counsel before engaging in political activity.

Some prohibited political activities might be criminal offenses under title 18 of the U.S. Code. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 210, 211, 594, 595, 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 610.

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