U.S. Office of Special Counsel Press Release



     The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has filed two similar complaints for disciplinary action against Federal employees for sending politically partisan electronic mail messages while on duty, in violation of the Hatch Act.  The OSC filed the complaints with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSBP) on August 12, 2004.

     One complaint against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee Maureen Taylor-Glaze, alleges that she sent an e-mail message to about 15 of her EPA coworkers while she was on duty and in her Federal office building.  The message contained a widely-circulated picture purportedly to be actress Jane Fonda and John Kerry speaking at an anti-war rally.  Under the picture were numerous negative statements about Presidential candidate John Kerry, and the statement, “Please keep this going.  We do not need this man as our President.”

     A similar complaint alleges that U.S. Air Force civilian employee Donald Thompson sent an e-mail message titled, “George W”, to more than 70 recipients while he was on duty.  The message contained a document mimicking President Bush’s resume and is filled with allegations of incompetence and malfeasance specifically directed at President Bush’s defeat in the upcoming election.  It also contains the phrases, “Please consider me when voting in 2004” and “Please send this to every voter you know.”

     Special Counsel Scott Bloch said, “The use of Internet and electronic mail is second-nature to almost everyone, and has become a favorite and effective campaign tool, even more so perhaps, than four years ago.  I want to remind Federal employees to be vigilant about following the Hatch Act, because we will consider this activity a form of electronic leafleting, and thus a violation of the prohibition on partisan political activity in the workplace.”

    The Hatch Act prohibits Federal executive branch employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed or holding office in the U.S. government, while wearing a uniform or official insignia identifying the office or position of the employee, or using any vehicle owned or leased by the government.  Political activity has been defined as activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for a partisan political office or partisan political group.

     The OSC provides advisory opinions on the Hatch Act and also enforces the provisions of the Act by filing petitions for disciplinary action.  Employees who are charged with violations are entitled to a hearing before the MSPB.  Under the Act, the presumptive penalty for a violation is removal from Federal employment. However, upon a unanimous vote of its members, the MSPB can mitigate the penalty to no less than a 30-day suspension without pay.  Employees have the right to appeal the MSPB’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.


     The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints and abuse of authority. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in Federal employment by protecting Federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-9855.