The Hatch Act affects some political activities, including off-duty activities, for Postal ServiceTM employees. The Office of Special Counsel, which investigates possible Hatch Act violations, has prepared examples of permitted and prohibited activities for federal, including Postal Service, employees:
Postal Service employees may:
• Be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections.
• Register and vote as they choose.
• Assist in voter registration drives.
• Express opinions about candidates and issues.
• Contribute money to political organizations.
• Attend political fundraising functions.
• Attend and be active at political rallies and meetings.
• Join and be an active member of a political party or club.
• Sign nominating petitions.
• Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, and municipal ordinances.
• Campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections.
• Make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections.
• Distribute campaign literature in partisan elections.
• Hold office in political clubs or parties.
But, Postal Service employees may not:
• Be candidates for public office in partisan elections.
• Use their official authority or influence to interfere with an election.
• Collect political contributions unless both individuals are members of the same federal labor organization or employee organization and the one solicited is not a subordinate employee.
• Knowingly solicit or discourage the political activity of any person who has business before the agency.
• Engage in political activity while on duty.
• Engage in political activity in any government office.
• Engage in political activity while wearing an official uniform.
• Engage in political activity while using a government vehicle.
• Solicit political contributions from the general public.
• Wear political buttons on duty.
For further information about the Hatch Act, please contact the Field Law Office that serves your location, or contact the Ethics Helpline by telephone at 202-268-6346 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because 2004 is an election year, candidates may seek to use Postal Service premises for campaign purposes. Postal Service regulations (see Postal Operations Manual 124.54; 39 CFR 232.1; and Poster 7, Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Postal Property) prohibit campaigning for election to public office on leased or owned Postal Service property. Tell individuals who ask about the availability of Postal Service property for such purposes about the prohibition, and give them a copy of the regulations. The following points will help you interpret and apply the regulations:
• The focus of the regulations is to identify activities that are "prohibited." Activities that are not prohibited by any of the regulations are permitted. For example, in the context of political campaigning, informational leafleting would be permitted, so long as the information in the leaflet itself is not political campaigning and the leafleting were carried out in a way that does not disrupt Postal Service business.
• Campaigning for election to public office is prohibited on Postal Service property, even if the candidate is independent of any political party.
• The regulations do not prohibit all activities related to political issues. For example, distributing literature pertaining to a referendum or ballot measure is permitted. The regulations do prohibit, however, the solicitation of signatures on petitions, polls, and surveys.
• The regulations prohibit depositing posters or literature on Postal Service property, obstructing entrances, any activity that tends to impede or disturb the public in transacting Postal Service business, the sale of goods, and the solicitation of contributions on Postal Service property.
• The regulations cover activity only on Postal Service premises. Activity outside Postal Service property, even if it affects our premises, is not governed by our regulations.
Local managers should pose questions about the Postal Service's conduct regulations to their district or plant manager or designee, who should contact counsel in the appropriate area legal office. When necessary, counsel will coordinate with the Postal Inspection Service to enforce the regulations.
- Ethics and Federal Government,
Law Department, 6-24-04