The Hatch Act restricts federal employee participation in certain partisan political activities. The political activity restrictions apply during the entire time of an employee’s federal service. Certain rules prohibit both on-duty and off-duty conduct.
Partisan political activities are those activities directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. While most Federal employees are permitted to take an active part in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns, the Hatch Act does prohibit certain participation by all Federal employees. Federal employees may not seek public office in partisan elections, use their official title or authority when engaging in political activity, solicit or receive contributions for partisan political candidates or groups, and engage in political activity while on duty.
Most Executive Branch employees CAN run for nonpartisan offices, make financial contributions to political organizations, get involved in political groups, lobby congress on their personal time, and campaign for candidates by making speeches, distributing literature and signing nominating positions.
Most Executive Branch employees CANNOT run for partisan office, use their authority or job title to exert influence over an election, encouraging or discouraging political activity by anyone with business before their agency, sending or forwarding a partisan political email while on duty or in a federal workplace, lobby congress on duty unless in an official capacity, wear political tee-shirts or buttons, or engage in any political activity:
- While on duty
- While in uniform on duty or off duty
- While in a government office or government vehicle
- While using a government email or computer (even using personal email)
For a more complete list, see this publication from the Office of Special Counsel