October 27, 2004
Kurt Gallagher
(202) 639-6491

AFGE Calls On Special Counsel To Investigate Illegal Training

Union Questions Use of "Swift Boat Veteran" to Address Federal Employees

(WASHINGTON) - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) sent a letter to the U.S. Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, calling for an investigation of a training session held at the Waco V.A. Regional Office conducted by a former Bush campaign political operative and Swift Boat Veteran, Ken Cordier. AFGE argues that the training session was a violation of the Hatch Act because of Cordier's politically partisan affiliation.

Employees of the Waco facility were required to attend the training session, which was on POW issues, despite previously having met all training requirements on the subject. VA employees were promised in advance that Mr. Cordier would not inject partisan politics into his presentation. However, employees attest that comments made by Mr. Cordier during the question and answer portion of the training were politically partisan.

"Employees at the Waco facility were coerced into attending the session and felt intimidated by the politically inflammatory comments made by the presenter, Ken Cordier," said AFGE general counsel, Mark Roth. "The Hatch Act clearly prohibits this sort of forced indoctrination of federal employees. Scott Bloch, as U.S. General Counsel, has a responsibility to investigate this incident fully and take appropriate action."

The Hatch Act, passed in 1939 and last amended in 1993, prohibits the sort of openly partisan arm-twisting that was common in the federal workplace during the early 20th Century. The Hatch Act makes illegal such actions as using one's federal office for politically partisan purposes, distributing partisan materials in the federal workplace, and campaigning in federal facilities.

The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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