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W Post: Election E-Mails Can End Your Term in the Office (job)

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-21-08 08:13 PM
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W Post: Election E-Mails Can End Your Term in the Office (job)

By Stephen Barr
Monday, April 21, 2008; D01

It's so easy. A friend sends an e-mail about the presidential campaign and you forward it to an office buddy.

With that click of the mouse, you are at risk of being fired. For a Hatch Act violation.

E-mails, blogs and campaign Web sites can be cyber-traps for federal employees, especially those accustomed to using their government computer for personal matters, such as trading messages with children or sharing jokes with friends.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that investigates and prosecutes allegations of improper political activities by government employees, is getting calls these days from federal workers who are confused about the rules or worried they may have committed an "e-Hatch" violation, said Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the Hatch Act Unit at the OSC.

Much of the employee interest has been stirred by the presidential campaigns, which have spawned Web sites to raise money, distributed e-mails by the thousands and urged supporters to use blogs and social networking sites to get out political messages.

For the OSC, the movement of politics into cyberspace has led to a rethinking of how to interpret the Hatch Act, which was written in 1939 to limit partisan activities by government workers and substantially amended in 1993.

The law prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, wearing campaign buttons in the office and putting campaign bumper stickers on a government car. It also bans soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions, and prohibits employees from using their official positions to influence or interfere with an election. Violators are usually punished and can even lose their jobs.

FULL story at link.

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