The Hatch Act explained

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood describes what the Hatch Act means.

Posted: Dec 4, 2018 4:28 PM
Updated: Dec 4, 2018 5:00 PM

Federal employees are not to use the terms "resistance" or "#resist" in statements regarding President Donald Trump, according to guidance issued by the Office of the Special Counsel on Nov. 27.

The guidance, emailed to federal employees, states that use of those terms when discussing the President, as well as supporting or opposing impeachment of any candidate running for political office, which includes the President who is running for re-election, could be considered a violation of the Hatch Act.

The Hatch Act limits certain political activities of federal employees in an attempt to prevent the federal government from affecting elections or operating in a partisan manner. It applies to all federal employees, including those at the state and local level who work with federally funded programs. The act, however, is a guideline, so violations are not considered crimes. Punishment can range from a simple reprimand to the loss of a job.

The guidance states that any statements relating to "resistance to Donald J. Trump, usage of the terms 'resistance,' '#resist' and derivatives thereof is political activity." The guidance says that while those terms were initially used to oppose administration policies, they have now become "inextricably linked with the electoral success (or failure) of the President."

It also states that supporting or opposing impeachment of a candidate is "squarely within the definition of political activity" in violation of the Hatch Act. Because Trump has announced his candidacy for re-election in 2020, supporting or opposing his impeachment would be considered a violation.

American Oversight, a watchdog group led by former Obama administration officials, condemned the guidance, stating that their position on "impeachment advocacy or opinion goes too far," and that their position on activity related to 'the Resistance' also "suffers from overbreadth."

"Conflating resistance terminology with electoral advocacy opens the door to public employees being retaliated against for their policy positions or opinions," the group's executive director Austin Evers said in a statement posted on their website. "The overbreadth of OSC's position may run afoul of the First Amendment."

American Oversight warned that OSC's position on impeachment could "dangerously constrain whistleblowers."

In further clarification issued by OSC, the office specifies that the November 27 guidance "does not limit whistleblowers in any way from reporting or disclosing wrongdoing."

The guidance says that there are no "magic words" of "express advocacy" that are automatically considered to be violations of the Hatch Act. It also states that while this guidance restricts what federal employees can say and do in their official roles, the activity outlined in the email is only considered a Hatch Act violation when it is done while an employee is at work, on duty, "wearing an agency uniform or insignia, or while invoking any official authority or influence."

It also clarifies that broad usage of the terms "resist" and "resistance," like if an employee posts on social media, "I must #resist the temptation to eat another donut from the break room," would not be considered a violation.

The Office of the Special Counsel -- not to be confused with the Department of Justice's office of the special counsel led by Robert Mueller -- is a government body that enforces a handful of rules, including the Hatch Act.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Madison69422
Scott63010
Neshoba58937
Jones56622
Forrest52338
DeSoto5036
Leake40012
Rankin3856
Holmes38524
Jackson30313
Copiah2904
Attala28415
Newton2564
Monroe25225
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Lincoln25024
Harrison2477
Lamar2315
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Pearl River20631
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Washington1667
Warren1597
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Wayne1540
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Jasper1524
Smith14511
Covington1431
Clarke13818
Kemper13611
Chickasaw13012
Lafayette1274
Lee1245
Carroll11511
Coahoma1144
Marion1149
Clay1084
Winston1051
Lawrence1021
Simpson950
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Wilkinson859
Yalobusha855
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Itawamba847
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Union805
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Marshall773
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Tippah7111
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Humphreys587
Amite561
Tunica533
Walthall520
Perry503
Prentiss423
Jefferson400
Choctaw342
Stone300
Pontotoc293
Tishomingo280
Franklin282
Tallahatchie261
Quitman250
George211
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene91
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
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Houston1884
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Russell1590
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Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
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Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
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Winston820
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Washington666
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Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
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