White House Says Federal Agency Favoritism for GOP Candidates Is Not “Political Activity&#8221

Brian Zick

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R. Jeffrey Smith for WaPo reports: White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said. (…) Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.The administration maintains that the previously undisclosed meetings were appropriate. Those discussing the briefings on the record yesterday uniformly described them as merely "informational briefings about the political landscape." Hatch Act No Nos: Employees • May not use their official authority or influence to interfere with an election • May not solicit, accept or receive political contributions unless both individuals are members of the same federal labor organization or employee organization and the one solicited is not a subordinate employee • May not knowingly solicit or discourage the political activity of any person who has business before the agency • May not engage in political activity while on duty • May not engage in political activity in any government office • May not engage in political activity while wearing an official uniform • May not engage in political activity while using a government vehicle • May not be candidates for public office in partisan elections • May not wear political buttons on duty

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