U.S. Department of Agriculture employees were shocked to receive a memo from Bryan Kaphammer, the Associate Director of its Agricultural Research Services, on Tuesday, who confirmed he forwarded it, and further noted that he received it from Bradley Khaner, who is an US Department of Agriculture Ethics Advisor.
“It is a standard memo that we occasionally receive and forward to employees,” stated Kaphammer.
When CDMedia asked Khaner why was only Trump’s name referenced instead of all the other announced presidential candidates - both democratic and republican, or referenced generically, and could the memo be in violation of the Hatch Act signaling out only Trump, Khaner deflected upon the question.
Khaner refused to answer the question, but did acknowledge his forwarding of the memo to Kaphammer.
Department of Agricultural employees have confirmed that they have not received any memo mentioning any of the other announced presidential candidates - neither democrats or republicans.
The USDA letterhead memo reads:
“The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has received several questions from federal employees about how the Hatch Act affects their workplace activities now that former President Donald J. Trump has declared his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election. This opinion addresses those questions,” states the USDA memo. “The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal room or building. For purposes of the Hatch Act, political activity is activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, partisan political group, or candidate for partisan political office. This prohibition is broad and encompasses more than displays or communications (including in-person and via email or social media) that expressly advocate for or against former President Trump’s election,” it notes.
“For example, while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan “Make America Great Again,” “MAGA,” or any other materials from former President Trump’s 2016, 2020, or 2024 campaigns or use hashtags such as #MAGA or #Trump2024 in social media posts or other forums. In addition, because the Hatch Act generally prohibits employees from displaying pictures of candidates for partisan public office in the federal workplace, employees may not display most pictures of former President Trump while they are on duty or in a federal room or building. The only exception to that prohibition is if the photograph is a personal one, meaning the employee is in the photograph with former President Trump; the photograph was taken at a personal or professional event (e.g., wedding or agency awards ceremony); and the photograph is not related to the campaign (e.g., it does not show any campaign slogans or materials, it was not taken at a campaign event, etc.),” the memo concludes.
The US Office of Special Counsel specifically states:
“The Hatch Act, a federal law passed in 1939, limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.” states the US Office of Special Counsel website.
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