The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 61 AFSA NEWS What the Hatch Act Means for You With the 2020 elections just around the corner, now is a good time to brush up on how Hatch Act guidelines might affect your political activities. Congress passed the federal law, which concerns most executive branch employees, in 1939 and most recently amended it in 2012. According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, “a U.S. citizen employee, spouse, or family member shall not engage in partisan political activities abroad, other than authorized activities pertaining to U.S. elections” (3 FAM 4123.3). In 2016 the State Depart- ment Office of the Legal Adviser issued guidance on the Hatch Act to State Department employees. It lists what Foreign Service officers and their family mem- bers can and cannot do under the Hatch Act. A copy of the memo is available at www. afsa.org/hatchact. For example, permissible political activities include making financial contribu- tions to political candidates or parties within legal monetary limits, assisting in nonparti- san voter registration activi- ties, and campaigning for or against nonpartisan political issues such as referendum questions, constitutional amendments or municipal ordinances. But Foreign Service employees or members may not engage in any political activity while on duty. And some activities permissible while living in the United States are not allowed when living overseas, including holding a position in a par- tisan campaign or circulat- ing a partisan nominating petition. A common question is what kinds of political activities on social media are allowed under the Hatch Act. Posting, sharing, liking, tweeting or emailing pages or content supporting or opposing a partisan can- didate, political party or partisan political group is never allowed while on duty. Neither is referring to your official title or position while engaging in political activity on social media. But posting, sharing, liking, tweeting or emailing nonpartisan pages or content is allowed. Additional guidance can be found at the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel website at https://osc.gov/Services/ Pages/HatchAct-AdvisoryO- pinion.aspx. AFSA continues to follow developments on the Hatch Act and will provide any further guidance here, on the AFSA website or through our AFSAnet listserv. n Mike Calvert of FCS Joins AFSA Governing Board FSO Mike Calvert has joined the AFSA Governing Board as a For- eign Commercial Service represen- tative. Mr. Calvert joined FCS in 2008 and is currently serving in Washington, D.C., in the Office of the Middle East and Africa, where he works on infrastructure develop- ment. He also serves as desk officer for Egypt. Previously, Mr. Calvert served in Honduras and South Africa, as well as in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Prior to join- ing Commerce, Mr. Calvert was a political staffer at the Illi- nois General Assembly. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political sci- ence from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in international rela- tions from the University of Chicago. n Sue Bremner Joins AFSA Staff: USAID LM Adviser Sue Bremner, the new USAID Labor Management adviser, retired in 2019 from the For- eign Service. During her 30 years with the State Department, she served as chief of mission at two embassies and served in Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as domestically. Throughout her career, Ms. Bremner has supported col- leagues who have felt them- selves to be victims of insti- tutional inflexibility or bias in contravention of Equal Employ- ment Opportunity protections, helping them identify formal avenues of remedy. She looks forward to ensuring due process and encour- aging timely institutional responses to people seeking clarification of their entitlements. She has been a proud member of AFSA since her first days as an FSO. Ms. Bremner’s office is in the Ronald Reagan Building, 3.09-D, inWashington, D.C. She can be reached at (202) 712-1941. n Mike Calvert. Sue Bremner.