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Guidance on Engaging in Political Activities

As the Presidential campaigns continue (and as campaigns for other offices begin), employees generally have a number of questions regarding what activities are permissible for Federal employees. A list of questions and answers can be accessed through this link:

www.ogc.doc.gov/documents/hatch_act_qna_2008-e.pdf

Please keep in mind the following basic rules:

  • You may contribute to a campaign or political party, as well as vote, sign nominating petitions, and attend political rallies and fund-raisers.

  • You may not ask others for campaign contributions (with one exception: if you are a union official you may collect for a union multicandidate fund from someone who is not a subordinate).

  • You may not engage in any political activities while in a Government building (unless you are a Senate-confirmed Presidential appointee).

  • You may not use Government equipment, supplies, or services, including access to an e-mail account, for political purposes.

  • You may not wear a political button or t-shirt or hang a political sign or photograph in your Government office (although you may have a political bumper sticker on your personal car, even if you park in a Government parking lot).

  • You may not run for office in an election in which candidates are identified by party affiliation (except as an independent candidate in certain areas).

Beyond the basic political activities rules, you are subject to rules of decorum while in the office, which means that you should not engage in political discussions in the office that are disruptive or that could be viewed by others as coercive or as electioneering. These basic rules of office behavior also apply to contractors who work in a Government office; these workers, like Federal employees, may not display political buttons or signs while in the office.

If you have a question about engaging in political activities, please contact an attorney in the Ethics Law and Programs Division of the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration by e-mail at ethicsdivison@doc.gov or by telephone at 202-482-5384.