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Back to legislation introduced in Council period 16

Prohibition on Government Employee Engagement in Political Activity Act of 2006
Bill 16-674




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
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Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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Chairman Linda W. Cropp


Chairman Linda W. Cropp, introduced the following bill, which was referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

To prohibit District government employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, to authorize the Board of Elections and Ethics to review claims of violations of the proscription against political activity and to impose fines for violations or to refer cases to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, to make it a misdemeanor for employees to solicit donations of money or other things of value in connection with an election campaign in a government facility and to authorize the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute criminal violators.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "Prohibition on Government Employee Engagement in Political Activity Act of 2006".

Sec. 2. Definitions.

For the purpose of this act, the

(a) "On duty" means - hours when an employee is scheduled to work and when an employee is not on annual leave, leave without pay, or working in a part-time status.

(b) "Partisan political office" means any office for which any candidate is nominated or elected as representing a party any of whose candidates are selected based on a political party, but does not include any office or position within a political party or affiliated organization.

(c) "Political activity" means any activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

(d)(1) "Political contributions" means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value, made for any political purpose. This includes:

(A) Any contract, promise, or agreement, express or implied, whether or not legally enforceable, to make a contribution for any political purpose.

(B) Any payment by any person, other than a candidate or a political party or affiliated organization, of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to any candidate or political party or affiliated organization without charge for any political purpose; and;

(C) The provision of personal services, paid or unpaid, for any political purpose.

(2) A political contribution does not include the value of services provided without compensation by any individual who volunteers on behalf of any candidate, campaign, political party, or partisan political group.

Sec. 3. Application of the act.

(a) This act shall apply to all employees of the District, including employees of independent agencies and instrumentalities, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) This act shall not apply to employees of the District of Columbia Courts, Members of the Council, or the Mayor.

Sec. 4. Prohibited political activity.

(a) No employee shall engage in political activity which includes the following:

(1) Using official authority or influence to interfere with an election;

(2) Soliciting or discouraging political activity of anyone with business before their agency;

(3) Soliciting or receiving political contributions on services on government property;

(4) Soliciting funds for a political organization or candidate;

(5) Being a candidate for public office in partisan elections;

(6) Wearing partisan political buttons, badges, or T-shirts on duty;

(7) Distributing political campaign literature in a government office;

(8) Transporting political campaign literature in a government vehicle or using a government vehicle for any campaign activity;

(9) Allowing one's official title to be used in conjunction with a fundraising activity;

(10) Giving a list of names, residential addresses or telephone numbers of District government employees to any person knowing that such a list will be used for the purpose of soliciting contributions from, or mailing political campaign literature or advertising to, or calling such employee; or

(11) Using government time, facilities, equipment, or supplies in support of a political activity or to promote the candidacy of someone for public office in a partisan election.

(b) No employee may participate in political acitivity while:

(1) On duty;

(2) In a government office'

(3) Wearing an official uniform; or

(4) Using a government vehicle.

Sec. 5. Permitted political activity.

During nonworking hours employees may:

(1) Publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office;

(2) Make campaign speeches in support or in opposition to candidates in elections or on behalf of a political organizations;

(3) Make a contribution to a political organization or candidate;

(4) Purchase tickets to attend political gatherings;

(5) Be a candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election;

(6) Sign, initiate, or circulate a nominating petition;

(7) Submit articles or statements to a written or electronic publication in support of or in opposition to a candidate for a public office;

(8) Take an active part in managing the political campaign of a candidate; and

(9) Display pictures, buttons, signs, badges, or buttons associated with political activities, but not while wearing a uniform or wearing a government insignia.

Sec. 6. Supervising official prohibited conduct.

(a) No elected official or other employee may require an employee to make a political contribution.

(b) No supervising official shall solicit any contribution to or on behalf of an explorer or candidate for a partisan political office from any employee under the supervision of the supervising official.

(c) At no time shall a supervising official directly or indirectly coerce or attempt to coerce, command, or advise any other employee to pay, lend, or contribute any part of his or her salary, or any money, or anything else of value to any party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes.

Sec. 7. Employees rights.

(a) Employment by the District does not affect any right or obligation of any employee under the Constitution and the laws of the United States or laws of the District.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this act, an employee may:

(1) Freely participate in any political activity;

(2) Not be required to engage in any political activity;

(3) Be a member of a national, state, or local political party;

(4) Take part in a political campaign off duty;

(5) Serve as a voting or nonvoting delegate to a party convention; and

(6) Be appointed, nominated, or elected to a nonpartisan political office.

Sec. 8. Administrative enforcement.

(a) The Board of Elections and Ethics shall have the duty and power to make investigations on its own initiative or upon written complaint under oath by any individual, with respect to alleged violations of any provision of this act, and to hold hearings when it deems necessary to investigate violations.

(b) The Board of Elections shall have authority to levy a civil penalty not to exceed $2,000 for each violation. In addition, the Board shall have authority to revoke a person's eligibility to be appointed as an election monitor or in any capacity at the polls on the day of an election, primary or general, when the Board finds that the person has intentionally violated any provision of this act. The Board shall refer to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia any case where there is evidence of a violation of section 9(a) for prosecution.

(c) Any employee who willingly and voluntarily violates this act shall be removed from their position, and funds appropriated for the position from which removed thereafter may not be used to pay the employee or individual, except where the Board finds by unanimous vote that the violation does not warrant removal, a penalty of not less than 30 days' suspension without pay shall be imposed by direction of the Board. The Board may also direct that the employee be demoted or subject to any other disciplinary action.

(d) The Board may adopt and promulgate rules to carry out the provisions of this act.

Sec. 9. Criminal enforcement.

(a) It shall be unlawful for an employee to solicit donations of money, services, or other things of value in connection with an election campaign in a government facility that is used for the discharge of official duties by an officer or employee of the District.

(b) Any violation of subsection (a) of this section shall be punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of up to $2,500 for each violation or triple the amount of any improper payment or contributions received, whichever is greater, imprisonment of up to 180 days, or both.

(c) The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia shall have authority to prosecute under this section.

Sec. 10. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code §1-206.02(c)(3)).

Sec. 11. Conditional effective date.

This act shall take effect on the later of (1) completion of a 30-day period of Congressional review following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code §1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register; or (2) enactment by Congress of an act excluding the District of Columbia from the coverage of the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§7321-7326.

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