What Not To Give At The Office

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey has fallen victim to the creeping crud. While he chases down his running nose, we offer this gem from October 2006 to help keep all of us out of trouble. The column has been slightly edited to reflect the current races. sk

Time is running out to make a fool of yourself and, if you play your cards wrong, get in a heap of trouble too. Maybe lose your job! Interested? Who wouldn’t be. So, read on:

Got an e-mail that makes NY Senator Hillary Clinton look really, really dumb? Or a cartoon that shows her rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, as inexperienced? What about a link to a video proving once and for all that Arizona Senator John McCain‘s cheese has slipped off his cracker? And if you don’t live in Virginia, DC, or Maryland, home of today’s Potomac Primary, you can still foul up big-time in your own backyard.

If you answered “yes” to the above, you still have time to shoot yourself in the foot by running afoul of the Hatch “no politics” Act. Although the law has been around since 1939, a small (but determined) group of feds run afoul of it each time there is a federal election.

Most people know you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) campaign at the office. No matter how smart and right you are, and how evil and dumb the other candidate, not to mention your office mates, is. The law says don’t do it.

But despite the law and common sense (which often are NOT the same thing) dozens of feds run afoul of the Hatch Act each and every election. Most times, the biggest, dumbest activities take place in a presidential election. Especially if you have a computer at your office and you have a list of buddies who love (you think) to receive and pass on e-mails and cartoons from you.

After every election a small band of feds goes through the Hatch Act mill.

Believe it or not, in the last presidential election two feds in the same office at Social Security turned each other in for alleged Hatch Act violations. One sent out anti-Bush material. The other sent out anti-Kerry material. As a result both feds failed to receive a nomination for the coveted Noble Prize For Not Doing Something Stupid. But both got into an equal amount of trouble for doing what their colleague accused them of doing.

(Most news media organizations also have strict rules about politicking at the office, or away from the office. Some even strong encourage employees, even off duty, not to wear political buttons or have political bumper stickers on their cars. Despite the rules some people, every election, run into trouble. And sometimes get fired. So you are not alone.)

If you are planning to do something political at the office the best advice is don’t-do-it. Vote, by all means. But don’t put your job in peril. Or annoy your coworkers with the revealed (to you) political truth.

If you have any doubts about what “it” is, click here.

Nearly Useless Factoid

Sure, today is Lincoln’s Birthday, you knew that. You also knew that at 6′ 4″ he was the tallest President. Useless Factoid: The shortest President was a full 12 inches shorter. At 5′ 4″, James Madison was once referred to by future wife, Dolley Payne Todd, as “the great little Madison.” And that from a woman known for her social graces.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

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