Office of Ethics: Hatch Act update

Graphic of gavel. Text: The Hatch Act, https://osc.gov/pages/hatchact.aspx.

 

WASHINGTON, DC—The Hatch Act, among other restrictions, prohibits federal employees, while on official duty or while in the workplace, from engaging in any activity directed toward the success or failure of any partisan candidate’s election campaign. This prohibition is broad and encompasses more than displays or communications that expressly advocate for or against a candidate’s election or reelection.

TEST: The Hatch Act’s restrictions will apply if a slogan or phrase is directed toward the success or failure of a partisan political candidate or a political party.

  • The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has advised employees to refrain from wearing, displaying or distributing items in the workplace such as caps with the “Make America Great Again” or “#MAGA” slogan.
  • While OSC has deemed slogans that are not inherently political, such as “Make School Lunches Great Again,” do not violate the Hatch Act. If a slogan were to become actively used by a political campaign, then that slogan would trigger the Hatch Act’s restrictions.
  • Because the green caps containing the “Make Our Farmers Great Again” slogan are now being sold on a political candidate’s campaign website, these caps should not be displayed in the official workplace or worn while on official duty.

NOTE: This prohibition extends to activity on official USDA social media.

Questions: Visit the Office of Ethics website or email the office.

Green baseball cap that says Make Our Farmers Great Again.
The Make Our Farmers Great Again baseball cap is now a political campaign item and, therefore, regulated by the Hatch Act.
Seal: Eagle holding scales of justice. Text: Office of Special Counsel, United States of America.