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A Moment of Silence for the Hatch Act, as the Party of Government Merges With the Government



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The American Spectator’s Ross Kaminsky demonstrates that the Obama administration is violating the Hatch Act – the federal laws that forbid government employees from using government resources for partisan political purposes.

President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel distributed through the Defense Department’s communications systems a nakedly political appeal to all government employees. It is the most direct kind of politics – an attack on the political positions of the partisan opposition, rendered in unabashedly political terms. DoD employees are praised for performing their (well compensated) jobs

IN A POLITICAL CLIMATE THAT, TOO OFTEN IN RECENT YEARS, HAS TREATED YOU LIKE A PUNCHING BAG. YOU HAVE ENDURED THREE YEARS OF A FEDERAL PAY FREEZE, HARMFUL SEQUESTER CUTS, AND NOW, A SHUTDOWN OF OUR GOVERNMENT. [Caps in original.]

The fact that the Obama administration, the source of this message, is the actual cause of the ongoing partial shutdown of government is beside the point. The question of who is responsible for the shutdown (and the pay freeze, and the sequester cuts . . .) is patently political. This Obama message to all employees is a willfully partisan attempt to assign political blame to the authors’ partisan opposition. 

As Ross shows, the message proceeds to be even more unabashedly political:

THIS SHUTDOWN WAS COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CAN END IT AS SOON AS IT FOLLOWS THE SENATE’S LEAD, AND FUNDS YOUR WORK IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WITHOUT TRYING TO ATTACH HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL AND PARTISAN MEASURES IN THE PROCESS. [Emphasis added.]

Obviously, the House of Representatives is under the control of the administration’s political adversary. The claim that the bill passed by the House is “highly controversial” and contains “partisan measures” is itself a palpably partisan Democratic contention – and a highly controversial one at that, given that the House bill would fund all of the government other than Obamacare (which the House undeniably has the constitutional authority to do). That is, the shutdown was also “completely preventable” because President Obama refuses to sign a readily available bill that would have kept the government running all along – a refusal attributable to his insistence that the “highly controversial and partisan” (and unpopular) Obamacare be preserved despite his own serial violations of Obamacare’s terms.

The Hatch Act (5 U.S. Code, Sec. 7324) forbids the government officials to whom it applies – including the secretary of defense – from using the “any . . . instrumentality” of government to conduct “political activity,” which Defense Department guidance defines as, among other things, “activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party.” The appeal sent by Defense Department officials at the direction of President Obama and Secretary Hagel is clearly political activity for which instrumentalities of government were used for department-wide dissemination. That is a violation of federal law.

Nor is it the only one. The same communication – in the form of an October 1 letter from President Obama – was sent to employees of the Department of Labor. Here is the letter. Don’t worry, though — I’m sure Eric Holder is on the case. 

This is precisely what David French wrote about here last week: “The party of government an the government itself . . . start to merge into one seamless whole.” This is the end of the civil service as originally conceived – as David put it: “something like a professional class of public servants . . . dedicated to the public good regardless of the party in power.” The ruling party – and the Obama Democrats do very much see themselves as ruling rather than serving us – sees the federal bureaucracies as instrumentalities of its political campaigns, and as Mark Steyn and others here have shown, the bureaucracies are reciprocally content to serve the Democratic political agenda rather than the public.



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