The Office of Special Counsel has found the United States Postal Service guilty of violating federal law during last year’s election. According to a new report from Fox News, the USPS allowed federal employees to campaign for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats while on leave from their jobs. This union-funded work is, unfortunately, prohibited by the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from participating in certain political activities.
From Fox News:
The investigation was launched months ago after Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., brought constituent complaints to the OSC in October. The constituent, identified as a USPS employee, was concerned the Postal Service “incurred unnecessary overtime costs” and “improperly coordinated” with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) when it released members for several weeks of “union official” leave without pay to participate in campaign work.
“The Labor 2016 program sought to ‘elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country,’” the report said, citing campaign work like door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and other get-out-the-vote efforts.
According to the report, roughly 97 NALC members requested the leave without pay to participate. The NALC, which endorsed Clinton last June, compensated those USPS workers using the Letter Carrier Political Fund, the union’s PAC.
According to the report, 82 percent of the work took place in 2016 battleground states: Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Officials at multiple levels apparently were involved.
The Post Office has defended itself by saying that it played no role in vetting, picking, or approving the candidates for whom the labor organization campaigned.
“I also note that our postal unions do not speak for the Postal Service, and the Postal Service does not speak for our unions,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan in prepared testimony. “This especially applies in a political context, but it is inherent in any collective bargaining relationship.”
Even so, the Special Counsel’s office insists that by allowing workers – nay, directing all local officials to allow workers time off by demand of the union – the Postal Service essentially made itself a force for specific Democrats like Clinton.
The Postal Service may have found themselves in this position unintentionally, but it’s nonetheless essential for Congress to hold federal entities on a short leash when it comes to their political activities. There’s room for error…but not much. And there’s certainly not room for systematic activities like the ones the Post Office is accused of letting their workers pursue. This can’t be allowed to happen…though we’re not terribly surprised it happened under Obama’s watch.