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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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