- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An employee at the Federal Election Commission, the nonpartisan federal agency that oversees campaigns, has resigned after admitting to campaigning for President Obama in 2012, in violation of federal laws.

The employee, a lawyer whose name wasn’t divulged, solicited campaign donations for Mr. Obama and other political campaigns, and even took part in a web broadcast from an FEC facility where the employee criticized the GOP and Republican 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Those moves violate the Hatch Act, the 1939 federal law sharply restricting federal government employees’ campaign activity. The Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations, announced the steps — though a spokesman said they couldn’t give out any more details.

Since the FEC is supposed to be the government’s elections watchdog, its employees are subject to strict rules prohibiting campaign involvement.

FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said they placed the employee on administrative leave once the allegations were made, and that the employee has agreed to resign — but she said the case shouldn’t tarnish the rest of the agency.

“The commission is not aware of any information suggesting that these activities were anything other than the isolated acts of a single employee,” she said.

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In addition to resigning, the FEC employee agreed not to pursue work in the federal government for two years.

It’s the latest instance of one of the government’s nonpartisan watchdogs admitting to electioneering on behalf of Mr. Obama.

Earlier this month, the Office of Special Counsel said it was pursuing cases against three IRS employees and offices suspected of illegal political activity in favor of the president and fellow Democrats. The agency said it was “commonplace” in the IRS’s Dallas office for employees to have pro-Obama stickers and buttons, and said in another case an IRS employee who worked on the agency’s customer-help line chanted Mr. Obama’s name in urging a taxpayer to support the president.

The political activity isn’t limited only to Democrats. On Tuesday, the Office of Special Counsel also announced another federal employee, a civilian working for the Air Force, has agreed to take a 30-day suspension for pro-Republican and anti-Obama activities while on duty.

“The employee sent numerous partisan political e-mails using a government account to a list of as many as 60 federal employees,” the investigators said in a statement. “The employee sent each e-mail while on duty in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The employee admitted knowing about the Hatch Act’s restrictions, and even after receiving warnings from his supervisors, persisted in sending more e-mails. All of the e-mails were in opposition to then-candidate President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.”

That employee, whose name also wasn’t divulged, agreed to take a 40-day suspension as punishment.

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The two new cases “are examples of how government agencies can work together to ensure partisan politics stay out of the federal workplace,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in a statement.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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