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NEWS | March 1, 2017

Avoid workplace partisan political activities

By Joint Base Charleston legal office Joint Base Charleston Legal Office

Political speech (partisan political activity) in federal work centers is prohibited by federal employees.  The long standing rule limiting political activity in the federal workplace has been further burdened with the advent of technology and its continued transformation.


In trying to simplify a complex topic, here are a few applicable guidelines. Federal employees may not engage in political activity in an official (Air Force) capacity at any time.  Federal employees may not tweet, retweet, share or like a post soliciting political contributions.  Federal employees may not like or follow the social media page of a candidate or partisan group while on duty or in the workplace.  Federal employees may not engage in political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace. To do otherwise would be in violation of the federal Hatch Act.  Hatch Act violations are serious matters, which are investigated by the Office of Special Counsel.  Many federal employees have been disciplined and/or removed from federal service for such misconduct.


Military members' political speech is regulated even further.  Those restrictions are outlined in AFI 51-902, Political Activities by Members of the US Air Force, dated 27 August 2014, Chapter 4.  This instruction is punitive and applies to active duty, reserve, and guard members.  Violations are punishable by Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  In addition to these requirements, officers have a further obligation. Officers who engage in contemptuous words toward the President, Vice President, Congress, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of a Military Department, Secretary of Homeland Security, a Governor or a legislature, may be punished by Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 


The intent of this article is to clarify these rules and reset proper boundaries avoiding potential concerns in units.  The importance of the work done here necessitates a harmonious and productive work center. 


Please review these rules and contact the 628 ABW/JA, if you have any questions or concerns.