Public Employees Seeking Office Must Comply With Federal Law
This election year, employees may be considering whether they would be fit to run for public office, but running may be more difficult than expected.
The Hatch Act is a piece of U.S. legislation dating back to 1939. The act prohibits federal employees and certain local government employees whose salary is 100 percent funded by federal grants or loans from engaging in partisan political activity. The purpose of the Hatch Act is to ensure that federal funds are administered in a nonpartisan fashion and to protect employees from political coercion. A state employee who desires to run for public office must follow Department of Human Resource Management Rule 477-9-4-2, which states:
(2) Prior to filing for candidacy, a state employee who is considering running for a partisan office shall submit a statement of intent to become a candidate to the agency head.
(a) The agency head shall consult with DHRM.
(b) DHRM shall determine whether the employee’s intent to become a candidate is covered under the Hatch Act.
(c) Employees in violation of section R477-9-4(1)(b) may be disciplined up to dismissal.
(3) If a determination is made that the employee’s position is covered by the Hatch Act, the employee may not run for a partisan political office.
(a) If it is determined that the employee’s position is covered by the Hatch Act, the state shall dismiss the employee if the employee files for candidacy.
Although there are rules, every employee is encouraged to participate in politics. Just be sure to follow your human resource policies and understand the process if you decide to run for public office.