Political do’s and don’ts for service members and civilian employees

4 Dec 2015 | Cpl. U. Roberts Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

As the time draws near for U.S. citizens to cast their vote for the next President of the United States, politicians have begun ramping up their campaign efforts.

With this in mind, it is imperative for military members and federal employees alike to know the do’s and don’ts for participating, advocating or supporting a political party, partisan candidate or partisan political group.  

The Department of Defense encourages service members to continue carrying out the obligations of citizenry by continuing to participate in permitted political activities, like voting and making personal monetary donations.  

However, the Hatch Act, enforced by the U. S. Office of Special Counsel, provides guidance that restricts federal employees from participating in or advocating for political parties while in official uniform, on duty or in a federal building. The act also informs federal employees that during times of liberty or while not in a duty status, there are restrictions to publically supporting politicians.

Politicians today rely heavily on social media, political rallies and television networking to advertise their policies and theories, and inform American citizens of their campaign plan.  

With more than 1 billion people actively using social media, including service members from different branches of the military, social media has become one of the prime mediums for spreading political information and propaganda.  

Government-endorsed social media pages are directed toward sharing information about the agency’s official business and mission and must remain politically neutral.

While the debates can be compelling, military members are restricted from posting or liking campaign material or the website of a political party, partisan candidate or partisan political group. Furthermore, the act restricts members from sharing or re-sharing Facebook pages or any post on those pages.  

Federal employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities while in an official capacity. This includes distributing, soliciting, receiving or accepting political contributions.

As debates climax and the time to vote draws near, becoming knowledgeable about the do’s and don’ts of posting becomes vital. More detailed information and additional references can be found at http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/deskbook/political_activities.pdf.


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