The outcomes of several recent Hatch Act-related cases serve as a reminder that limits on partisan political activities apply to social media as well as to the physical world.
The Office of Special Counsel has said it has entered into settlement agreements in cases involving postings to accounts while on duty or in a federal workplace. One “posted to Twitter dozens of tweets and retweets directed toward the success or failure of candidates for President and the U.S. Senate” and the other “posted numerous partisan political messages to his personal Facebook account expressing opposition towards presidential candidates and a political party,” the OSC said.
Both were aware of the Hatch Act and the former was suspended for 25 days and the latter for 30 days, it said.
The OSC said it also settled on suspensions with two other employees, one on a charge of soliciting political contributions for the union’s political action committee from two other agency employees while on duty and in the workplace, and one for alleged use of the employee’s official title when endorsing the campaign of a state representative running for partisan office.
It said it further settled on a $1,000 fine against a now-retired employee on grounds of escorting a Senate candidate and his campaign’s political director through an agency facility.