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Federal employees and the Hatch Act: What you need to know.

Reporters throughout the country recently spotlighted the Hatch Act. The law drew the media’s attention when the Office of Special Counsel accused Kellyanne Conway of a violation. The media’s attention to the matter was well deserved. In certain situations, federal employers can fire those who violate this law.

The story led to many questions. This piece will provide some basic information.

What is the Hatch Act?

Lawmakers passed this law in 1939 to curb the political activities of federal workers. Essentially, this law states federal employees cannot use the power that comes with their position to influence a political election.

Some federal employees have greater restrictions then others. The law basically bars these employees from any political activity intended to aid in the success or failure of a candidate.

How common are violations?

Not uncommon. In 2016, the government found the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in violation of the law when he mixed his professional duties with personal political beliefs during an interview.

In this most recent case, Ms. Conway was found in violation by sharing her personal political thoughts about democratic candidates repeatedly during interviews and through her use of social media platforms in an official capacity.

Is everyone subject to these restrictions?

No. Most notably, the President and Vice President are generally exempt.

What if I am accused of a Hatch Act violation?

Most federal employees will likely face serious consequences if accused of violating the Hatch Act. Those who are accused by their employer have options. Contact an attorney to discuss the best legal strategy for your situation.

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