Politics

Federal employee suspended for campaigning for Obama while on duty

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced Friday the suspensions of two federal employees for violating the Hatch Act, including one from the troubled General Services Administration (GSA) who was campaigning for President Obama from her office.

In a press release, the OSC said a contracting officer from the GSA invited 23 people to an Obama fundraiser during the 2007-2008 campaign cycle from her government office while on duty. She also distributed Obama campaign material in the workplace and sent an email from her government account supporting his campaign.

The GSA, which oversees the business of federal spending, is still reeling from a stinging Inspector General report released earlier this year that detailed, among other things, a $1 million taxpayer-funded Las Vegas event.

The suspended GSA employee's alleged actions would violate the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of individuals employed or holding office in the executive branch of the federal government.

She has agreed to serve a 30-day suspension without pay.

A GSA spokeswoman said the agency supports the "aggressive action to ensure that all federal employees are adhering to the requirements of the Hatch Act." She noted employees "receive mandatory ethics training and weekly reminders about the need to comply with the Hatch Act."

The OSC also announced that a technology specialist for the Social Security Administration volunteered for a gubernatorial candidate's 2010 campaign. While on duty and in his federal office, the employee, "spent a significant amount of time coordinating volunteer efforts for the campaign" according to the OSC release. His activities included recruiting precinct captains, enlisting people to march in parades, organizing the distribution of yard signs and bumper stickers, and advising volunteers on how to host campaign events. The release said he invited over 50 people to the event and asked individuals to contribute $250 each. The employee will be suspended for 180 days without pay.