Reagan-Bush campaign officials say they have refunded more than $250,000 in contributions made by federal and postal workers earlier this year.
The reelection committee says the money was returned to protect the civil servants from any appearance that they violated the Hatch Act. That law prohibits most of the government's 2.8 million federal workers from taking active roles in partisan political campaigns.
Earlier this year, White House counsel Fred F. Fielding issued a memo advising feds not to give money to the Reagan-Bush campaign. Fielding cited a portion of the law that bars employes from giving money to their bosses for political purposes. The minimum penalty for a Hatch Act violation is a 30-day suspension.
The Hatch Act -- really a collection of administrative decisions -- became law in 1939. It does not bar government employes from expressing political opinions privately or from registering or voting and does not inhibit the political activities of retirees or the spouses of government workers.
Fielding's memo did not say anything about federal workers giving to the Mondale-Ferraro campaign.
On Tuesday this column reported that a number of federal workers had complained about letters and telephone calls from fund-raisers asking for donations to the Reagan-Bush reelection effort.
"None of those calls came from Reagan-Bush '84 the official fund-raising group ," said John Buckley, the campaign's deputy press secretary. Buckley said there had been problems with some "independent expenditure groups that pawn themselves off" as official Reagan-Bush fund-raisers, but said none of the groups is authorized by the official committee.
Buckley said the official campaign refunded the more than $250,000 to federal workers who made any contributions. He said the campaign checked contribution lists and sent refunds to those who had identified themselves as government workers.
Virtually all the federal and postal employe unions have endorsed the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. They have raised more than $4 million through their political action committees, and most of their money is either going to the national Democratic ticket or to Democrats in Senate and House races.