An independent government agency, the Office of Special Council (OSC), has warned nearly 3 million federal employees not to discuss the so-called Resistance, potential presidential impeachment, or anything of the sort until Election Day 2020. The reason is the Hatch Act, but some are wondering if the move has stretched legal guidelines too far.
The Hatch Act “limits certain political activities of federal employees,” as well as some state and local government employees who work with federally funded programs, according to the OSC. The reason is to avoid potential political coercion and ensure that people are promoted based on merit, not connections.
The memo that the agency sent to federal employees also warned them to avoid “strong criticism or praise of a presidential administration’s policies and actions.”
Currently, President Donald Trump is the only announced candidate for the 2020 presidential race and any comments about him or his policies effectively becomes opposition to or support for his campaign, reported the New York Times. Because impeachment would presumably disqualify someone from running again for president, discussion of that means taking a stance on Trump’s reelection.
“To me, it’s no different from the language we’ve used before,” said Ana Galindo-Marrone, OSC Hatch Act unit head, to National Public Radio.
But some government watchdog organizations say the guidance goes too far, reported the Washington Post, saying the guidance crosses a legal line and infringes on First Amendment rights.