Federal Employees News Digest

Special Counsel outlines its Hatch Act limits

As White House critics called for investigations of Hatch Act violations by administration staff participating in the Republican National Convention, the Office of Special Counsel issued a statement outlining its responsibilities and limitations. 

The Aug. 26 statement, OSC noted that it has responsibility to enforce the Hatch Act, but “has no statutory authority to enforce or advise on criminal provisions…. That task belongs solely to the U.S. Department of Justice.” 

Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said in the statement: “Ultimately, officials and employees choose whether to comply with the law. Once they make that choice, it is OSC's statutory role to receive complaints, investigate alleged Hatch Act violations, and determine which ones warrant prosecution.” 

OSC noted that the Hatch Act does not apply to the president or vice president, nor does it prohibit federal employees from engaging in political activity in certain areas of the White House, including the South Lawn and the Rose Garden. OSC did acknowledge that the number of complaints has increased over the last few months but said that more objections are typical in election years. 

 

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