Employee Found Blogging About Politics On Company Time
Engaging in political
activity while on duty in a federal building has led to suspension
for an employee of the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The
employee has been suspended for 180 days without pay for violations
of the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of federal
executive branch employees.
An investigation by the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found
the employee used his NASA e-mail account to send partisan
political e-mails, and made numerous partisan political postings to
his blog while on duty in his federal workplace. He was also found
to have solicited political contributions... all of which are
no-nos when on the clock as a federal worker.
According to an OSC release, the employee sent out political
emails throughout 2006 and 2007, to various individuals. Some
messages were for coordination and planning of activities of a
local partisan organization, while others were to assist a
candidate in her campaign for state representative. During the same
time period, he made blog postings promoting campaigns of several
candidates, including individuals running for governor and state
OSC’s investigation also revealed on at least two
occasions in 2006, the employee solicited political contributions
in violation of the Hatch Act. He posted to a blog an invitation to
a fundraising event, soliciting a $20 contribution for a partisan
political organization. He also posted a message on another blog,
asking for contributions of ten dollars or more to support a
candidate running for state representative.
The suspension for 180 days is the result of an informal
agreement he entered into with OSC and NASA. The suspension began
March 30, 2008.
"There was time when the Hatch Act was about wearing campaign
buttons in the office, or engaging in political activity while on
duty, wearing an official uniform, or in a government vehicle,"
said Special Counsel Scott Bloch. "Today, modern office technology
multiplies the opportunities for employees to abuse their positions
and, as in this serious case, to be penalized, even removed from
their job, with just a few clicks of a mouse."