WASHINGTON – In response to the release of new guidance from the Office of Special Counsel which states that talking about impeachment or “the Resistance” may constitute prohibited activity under the Hatch Act, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:
“It is laughable that the Office of Special Counsel is so interested in the potential Hatch Act violations by federal employees, while many top-level appointed staff in this administration continually violate it with impunity. If Hatch Act violations were at the forefront of concern, we would see compliance among the most vocal White House leadership.
“This guidance is plainly another attempt to intimidate and harass the hardworking men and women, many of whom are veterans, that go to work every day to keep our country safe and prosperous.
“Office of Special Counsel is yet again overstepping its authority. The 2.1 million federal workers who serve our country are entitled to first amendment rights and should feel comfortable discussing government policy and legislative action in the workplace. Any attempt to silence the voice of our hard-working government employees is nothing less than an attack on these employees’ first amendment rights and our constitutional checks and balances. It’s censorship, and it’s wholly incompatible with our shared American values.
“The Hatch Act was established to prevent federal employees from engaging in political activity in the course of their work, not so a president could institute a broad and thinly-veiled guise to monitor employee communications and reprimand government employees for dubious ‘offenses.’ The ‘Guidance Regarding Political Activity’ memo will serve only to strike fear into America’s workforce and prevent future workers from blowing the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse.
“If the Office of Special Counsel pursues implementing this new guidance, I have great concern it will be used to empower already over-emboldened agency managers to target and intimidate federal employees and potential whistleblowers.
I am calling on the administration to immediately reverse this attack on free speech.”