Hatch Act Guidance Updated for 2020 Election

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has updated its Hatch Act guidance in response to President Trump appointing a campaign manager for reelection in 2020. This officially makes him a candidate covered by the Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities while on duty or in a federal office or building.

The guidance prohibits any in-person, email or social media communication by an employee on duty or in the federal workplace that expressly advocates for or against President Trump’s reelection. “For example, while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns; use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non-official pictures of President Trump.”

While the statute restricts certain activities, there is plenty federal employees can do including wearing political buttons outside of work, signing petitions, contributing to TEPAC, and running for election to a non-partisan office. Learn more

The OSC also recently issued revised Hatch Act social media guidelines explaining when it is and isn’t acceptable to engage in political activity on social media.

Federal employees haven’t always been able to join in the nation’s political process. The original Hatch Act prohibited nearly all partisan political activities for federal employees, outside of voting. NTEU-initiated reforms to the Hatch Act expanded the range of activities that federal employees can take part in to include participating in phone banks and endorsement mailings, as well as holding lunchtime meetings and voter registration drives.