Have some violations of the Hatch Act gone unpunished?

Thursday, April 8, 2021
By Stevie Rosignol-Cortez

The Hatch Act is a federal law intended to ensure that federal employees remain nonpartisan in their duties. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the agency that enforces the law’s provisions, notes that it restricts such activities as campaigning for a political candidate, participating in political fundraisers or advocating for a political candidate on social media.

In 2019, the agency received 281 new complaints under the law, issued 49 warning letters, and took 11 “corrective actions.” Thus about 20% of complaints resulted in some sort of punishment, according to the OSC.

Disciplining some high-level violators of the act is up to the president who appointed them. President Trump ignored the 2019 recommendation of the OSC (and a House oversight committee) that he fire Kellyanne Conway for violating the act “dozens of times” with partisan media statements and appearances.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
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