Developments at OPM: On Monday, May 5, 2014, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a final rule in the Federal Register implementing the 2012 Hatch Act amendments. The Final Rule can be found at 79 Fed.Reg. 25,483-25,486. The Hatch Act amendments were analyzed previously in this blog. The Final Rule comes into effect June 4, 2014.
The most significant amendment to the Hatch Act implemented in OPM’s Final Rule is the expansion of the range of penalties for Hatch Act violations by federal employees, including lessening their severity. The Final Rule also implements amendments reducing the Hatch Act coverage of state and local government employees and of District of Columbia employees, and expanding the scope of permitted partisan political activity for federal employees in District of Columbia elections.
In response to a question posed by a federal employee labor union, OPM clarified that a group of federal employees remain subject to more strict restrictions on their partisan political activity. Specifically, OPM interpreted the relevant statutes as placing employees of the Criminal Division and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice under the more stringent rules for partisan political activity. The Final Rule also updated present regulations to reflect government organizational changes, updating the name of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and adding the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to the list of agencies subject to the stricter partisan political activity rules.
If you are a federal, state or local employee charged with a possible violation of the Hatch Act, and wish to discuss your rights, please contact the attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. to request an initial consultation.