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Library: Policy

340:2-1-4. Political activity

Revised 4-26-99

(a) There are two documents which govern the partisan political activities of the employees of the Department of Human Services: the Federal Hatch Political Activities Act, which applies to State and local government employees working in federally aided programs; and the Laws, Rules and Regulations of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, which apply to all classified employees working under these rules.

  • (1) The Hatch Act is enforced by the United States Civil Service Commission. The Oklahoma State Laws are enforced by the Ethics Commission. The Department of Human Services is responsible for assuring that its employees conform to the applicable provisions in each of these documents. Where the State or local laws or regulations established more strict prohibitions than are set forth by the Hatch Act on the political activity of State and local employees, these laws or regulations remain in effect. It was not the intent of Congress to preempt or supersede, by amendment, any existing State or local laws or regulations.

  • (2) The provisions of the Ethics Commission contain more strict prohibitions on political activity than does the Hatch Act. Therefore, based on paragraph (1) of this Section, these Personnel Rules take precedence over the Hatch Act and must be adhered to by the employees of this Department. The major provisions of these Rules are summarized in (A) - (E) of this paragraph.

    • (A) Coverage. The provisions of the Rules and Regulations of the Ethics Commission apply to classified employees in any agency or department of the State Government placed under the merit system of personnel administration by the "Oklahoma Personnel Act." [74 O.S., 4242 and 4245] Classified employees on leave of absence are subject to these restrictions at all times. Classified employees employed only on a part-time and intermittent basis are subject to the restrictions for the entire 24 hours of any day of actual employment. Ignorance of these rules does not excuse violation.

    • (B) Prohibited political activities. No classified employee may:

      • (i) use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election to or a nomination for office, or affecting the result thereof;

      • (ii) wear a campaign button, hat, or badge during the hours that the employee is officially in work status for an agency;

      • (iii) become a candidate for an elective public office in a partisan election;

      • (iv) directly or indirectly solicit contributions or other funds for a partisan political candidate or party; or

      • (v) organize, sell tickets to promote, or actively participate in a fund-raising activity of a candidate in a partisan election or of a political party.

    • (C) Penalty for violation. Any person who willfully violates any provisions is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof is punished by a fine of not less than $50.00 nor more than $1,000.00, or by imprisonment for not longer than six months or by both such fine and imprisonment. Any person who is convicted of a misdemeanor under the provisions of this Section is, for a period of five years, ineligible for appointment to or employment in a position in state service and, if at the time of conviction he or she is an employee of the state, forfeits his or her position.

    • (D) Permitted political activities. All classified employees retain the right to:

      • (i) register and vote in any election;

      • (ii) express opinions as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates;

      • (iii) display a political picture, sticker, badge, or button during off-duty hours;

      • (iv) participate in the activities of a civic, community, social, labor, or professional organization or of a similar organization;

      • (v) be a member of a political party or other political organization and participate in its activities not prohibited by subparagraph (B) of this Section;

      • (vi) serve as an officer of a political party at the national, state, or local level;

      • (vii) attend a political convention, rally, fund-raising function, or other political gathering;

      • (viii) sign a political petition as an individual;

      • (ix) make a voluntary financial contribution to a candidate, political party, or organization;

      • (x) be politically active in connection with a question such as an amendment to the State Constitution, referendum, approval of a municipal ordinance, or any other question of a similar character;

      • (xi) serve as an election judge or clerk, or in a similar position to perform duties as prescribed by state or local law; and

      • (xii) otherwise participate fully in public affairs, except as prohibited by law, in a manner which does not materially compromise the neutrality, efficiency, or integrity of his or her administration of state functions.

    • (E) Limitations. The permitted political activities named in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph do not authorize a classified employee to engage in political activity, while on duty, or while in a uniform that identifies the employee as a state employee. Neither is a classified state employee permitted to engage in political activities in the assigned work areas of a state agency in a manner that conflicts with the efficient performance of agency operations.

(b) No state employee can directly or indirectly coerce, attempt to coerce, command, or direct any state employee to pay, lend, or contribute any part of his or her salary or compensation, time, effort, or anything else of value to any party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes. Any person convicted of willfully violating the provisions of Section 360 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes is guilty of a felony and is punished by the imposition of a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or by imprisonment for not longer than two years, or by both said fine and imprisonment.

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