An Office of Special Counsel (OSC) report revealed that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) violated federal law by allowing employees to participate in union-funded work for the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates while on leave from the agency.
According to the OSC, the USPS “engaged in systemic violations” of the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting specific political activities of federal employees.
After Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., introduced constituent complaints to the OSC in October, the investigation was initiated.
Fox News reported that 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 OSC report noted that the Labor 2016 program sought to “elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country” by engaging USPS workers in political activities such as door-to-door canvassing, participating in phone banks and other efforts to encourage voting.
Approximately 97 NALC members requested the leave without pay to take part in the Labor 2016 program. After endorsing Clinton last June, the NALC compensated those USPS workers with monies from the Letter Carrier Political Fund, the union’s PAC.
The OSC report revealed that 82 percent of the political activities of the USPS workers occurred in the 2016 battleground states of Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“We concluded that the USPS practice of facilitating and directing carrier releases for the union’s political activity resulted in an institutional bias in favor of NALC’s endorsed political candidates, which the Hatch Act prohibits,” said OSC Acting Special Counsel Adam Miles in a prepared testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday regarding the matter.
USPS Postmaster General Megan Brennan disagreed, contending that “senior postal leadership did not in any way guide union leadership in selecting the candidates for whom NALC employees could campaign,” and that the USPS “did not approve or choose candidates for the unions to support” or “ask the union to advocate for political candidates on behalf of the Postal Service.”
According to Brennan, the practice of approving leave without pay for NALC political activity has been occurring for approximately 20 years and all violations of the Hatch Act were “unintentional.”
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