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Erica Hamrick, deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit at the Office of Special Counsel, discusses how to avoid Hatch Act violations as the country dives into the 2020 election cycle.

As the United States enters a new election cycle, it’s important for members of the civil service to remember to comply with the Hatch Act. The bill from the 1940s has been updated several times since it was first enacted, but the primary tenets still ring true. Erica Hamrick, deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit at the Office of Special Counsel, says that there’s a wide variety of complaints they receive.

 

“It may be something as simple as an employee wearing a campaign hat to work, but it also could be an employee speaking up during a staff meeting in support or opposition of a candidate. We also get a lot of complaints in terms of social media and even e-mail communications where federal employees are spending their time at work posting to social media about candidates they support or parties they want people to support instead of doing their government jobs. We get these types of complaints,” Hamrick said. “We also get complaints about employees who are misusing their position in support of a political candidate. Employees that are out there speaking in their official capacity on behalf of the government, representing the government, and then go off and also endorse a candidate. That’s a problem… We also have seen a rise in complaints dealing with employees who have official social media accounts they are using as part of their job in their official capacity and on those accounts they are also engaging in political activity, which is a problem.”

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