Navy Worker Slapped with Hatch Act Charge

September 9, 2005 ( - A US Navy employee has been charged with violating federal bans against too much political activity at a federal workplace after inviting people to a political event via e-mail.

A news report said that the Office of Special Counsel, the independent agency charged with enforcing the 1939 Hatch Act, filed a complaint in August with the Merit Systems Protection Board. The complaint charges that employee Rocky Morrill illegally sent an e-mail to more than 300 people inviting them to a Halloween party forUS Representative Tim Holden, (D-Pennsylvania).

The invitation attached to the e-mail encouraged the recipients, all federal employees, to attend the party and meet Holden who at the time was seeking re-election to Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.

The OSC holds that Morrill violated the Hatch Act in sending the e-mail from his job at the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, according to the news report..

In April, an MSPB judge ruled on two Hatch Act cases holding that sending politically charged e-mails to co-workers on government computer systems did not violate the Hatch Act because it is akin to “water cooler” discussions. The OSC is appealing that decision, which involved two incidences of forwarding an e-mail to no more than 50 people in the Social Security Administration’s Kansas City regional office.

“We will continue to prosecute this important law when partisanship is injected improperly into the federal workplace,” said Special Counsel Scott Bloch in a statement, the news report said.