The Washington Post

OPM wants to relax campaign restrictions on D.C. federal workers


The Obama administration and Washington’s congressional delegate agree: the federal government should relax restrictions on political activities for public employees living in D.C.

The Office of Personnel Management on Friday will propose a rule change allowing District residents to accept campaign contributions and run as partisan candidates in local elections while working for the government.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) applied for the amendment, which OPM submitted for entry into the federal register.

The Hatch Act of 1936 governs involvement in political activities by public employees. Congress recently updated the law, which now gives OPM the authority to designate areas where residents who work for the government can campaign and raise money for elections.

The agency said in its proposal that D.C.’s federally employed residents should be added as a designated area because of its “high concentration of federally employed residents, its unique position as the capital of the United States, and the partisan nature of its elections for local public office.”

Current law allows OPM to lift restrictions on those activities “because of special or unusual circumstances,” as the agency said in its proposal.

For what it’s worth, the proposed rule change would list D.C. alphabetically among exempt municipalities, placing the district between Crane, Ind. and Elmer City, Wash.

The changes that Congress and the president recently approved for the Hatch Act included repealing a requirement that federal agencies fire workers who engage in banned political activities. The revised law provides a broader menu of penalties, including suspension, grade reduction, civil fines, and temporary debarment from federal employment.

The recent amendments also allow employees of state and local governments to run for partisan political office as long as they do not receive their full salary from the federal treasury.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, subscribe to his Facebook page or e-mail

E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Josh Hicks · April 4, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.