A former Federal Elections Commission employee and an Air Force civilian admitted to engaging in prohibited political activities on the job, including criticizing the 2012 presidential nominees, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
The former FEC employee admitted to criticizing the Republican party and its last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, during a live Internet broadcast on the Huffington Post Web site, in addition to posting dozens of partisan political tweets and soliciting campaign contributions to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
The employee has resigned and will not be allowed to work for the federal government for two years, the OSC said in an announcement.
The Air Force civilian worker has been suspended for 40 days without pay for sending e-mails opposing Obama and the Democratic party in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The messages were addressed to dozens of colleagues and sent from the employee’s work account while on duty, and the e-mails continued even after co-workers complained and supervisors warned the employee to stop, according to the OSC.
The employees’ names were not released.
Federal law, specifically the Hatch Act, prohibits all federal employees from engaging in political activity or asking for political donations while on duty or in the federal workplace.
The FEC worker’s actions add fuel to Republican suspicions that the agency, which enforces campaign-finance laws, has become a tool for the left. GOP lawmakers have suggested that the commission has long wanted to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on elections.
“I think you can understand why reports of this nature make Republicans somewhat wary of the FEC and [its] ability to regulate their behavior,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said Wednesday during a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing.
FEC Vice Chair Ann Ravel noted that the agency conducted an internal investigation. She said that “there’s no reason to believe that this is extensive or goes beyond anybody except this one individual who has since been terminated.”
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