The “Hatch Act” restricts executive branch employees of the Federal government in their ability to actively take part in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns as compared to “private citizens.” See 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326. Further, some Federal employees are subject to even greater restrictions, which prohibit them from engaging in any partisan political activity. The default penalty for a Federal employee who violates the Hatch Act is removal.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is authorized to investigate violations of the Hatch Act. 5 U.S.C. § 1216 (a)(2). After investigating an alleged Hatch Act violation, OSC may seek disciplinary action against an employee before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). 5 U.S.C. §§ 1504 – 1508; 7321 – 7326. When violations are not sufficiently egregious to warrant prosecution, OSC may issue a warning letter to the employee involved.