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What’s allowed and not allowed under the Hatch Act

June 13, 2019
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, left, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with governors on "workforce freedom and mobility" in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog agency says Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, has repeatedly violated a law known as the Hatch Act that limits political activity by federal workers. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel recommended her firing while the White House called the independent agency’s actions “unprecedented” and “deeply flawed.”

More information about the Hatch Act:

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE HATCH ACT?

Congress approved the Hatch Act in 1939 to limit partisan activity by federal employees to ensure the government functions fairly and effectively.

WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE PROHIBITED?

Running for office in partisan elections, sending or forwarding a partisan political email while on duty or in a federal workplace, engaging in political activity while wearing an official uniform or while using a government vehicle, using official authority to interfere with or influence an election, soliciting or receiving political contributions, wearing or displaying partisan political buttons, T-shirts or signs.

WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED?

Voting however one chooses, contributing money to campaigns or political parties, attending political rallies and meetings, expressing opinions about candidates and issues. If the activity is directed at the success or failure of a party or candidate, then the expression is not permitted while the employee is on duty.

WHO IS COVERED BY THE HATCH ACT?

All civilian employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president and the vice president.

ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS?

Certain executive officials, such as presidential advisers or cabinet officers, can engage in political activities during official working time as long as federal funds are not used. Any such official must reimburse the U.S. Treasury for federal resources used in campaign activities.

WHAT SANCTIONS OCCUR FOR VIOLATIONS?

Career government officials found to have violated the Hatch Act can be fired, suspended or demoted, and fined up to $1,000.

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