Hatch Act: Small violation brings big penalty – The Washington PostPosted: June 28, 2011
The Hatch Act, which sets limits on political activities of federal workers, has a single sanction for violation of the act–termination.
Joe Davidson wrote an article explaining that D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that, far from a deterrent, the one-size-fits-all penalty of termination has the opposite effect. Agencies are reluctant to report violators “and therefore,” Norton reasoned, “the violations perhaps are encouraged to continue.”
I posted an online comment to this article, saying that the Hatch Act is one of the justifications sometimes cited for “nonpartisan” school board elections in Fairfax County. Everyone knows that the elections are partisan, but continuing to designate them as “nonpartisan” allows federal employees to accept the endorsements of the two political parties.
Steve Stuban, who hopes to receive the Fairfax County Republican Committee’s endorsement for an at-large seat at the school board, could not speak at a recent committee meeting due to restrictions on political activity by his employer, the Department of Defense.
It is wrong for a prospective school board member to have to worry about losing his job if he violates some rule of the Hatch Act. If Fairfax County returned to having an appointed school board it would be easier for federal employees to serve on the school board without complicated posturing as “nonpartisan” beneficiaries of the endorsements of the political parties.