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Hatch Act 'Dos and Don'ts'

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2000 – Are there legal restrictions placed upon DoD military and civilian employees' political activities because of their unique roles as public servants?

Yes, there are. The "Dos and Don'ts" are listed under the federal Hatch Act, originally legislated in 1939 and updated seven years ago. The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of executive branch employees, including DoD civilian employees, and the employees of the District of Columbia government and certain state and local agencies. Military reservists or Guardsmen working as federal government civilians also are subject to the Hatch Act.

Members of the active-serving armed forces are subject to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, titled: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces. The intent of this directive essentially mirrors Hatch Act provisions for federal civilian employees.

Allowable activities under the Hatch Act include running for nonpartisan public office; registering and voting as one chooses; assisting in voter registration drives; attending political fundraisers, rallies and meetings; and holding office in political clubs or parties.

As examples of prohibitions, federal employees generally may not solicit or receive political contributions, and they may not engage in political activity while on duty, in a government office or while wearing an official uniform.

In 1993, congressional legislation substantially amended the Hatch Act, enabling most federal and District employees to engage in many types of political activity outside the workplace that were previously forbidden. Provisions applying to state and local government employees were not changed.

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Related Sites:
Hatch Act for Federal Employees
DoD Directive 1344.10

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