Merrick Garland issues memo 'governing participation in partisan political activities' to DOJ

Merrick Garland issues memo 'governing participation in partisan political activities' to DOJ
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United States Attorney General Merrick Garland issued an edict to Department of Justice employees on Tuesday reminding them that their personal political affiliations must in no way interfere with their work for the federal government.

The document was shared on Twitter by NBC News Justice correspondent Ryan Reilly.

"We must be familiar with the rules governing participation in partisan political activities and ensure that politics does not compromise the integrity of our work. The public trusts that we will enforce the laws of the United States in a neutral and impartial manner, without the actual or apparent influence of political agendas," Garland wrote. "With that objective in mind, the purpose of this memorandum is to outline the restrictions on political activity applicable to all employees as well as the additional restrictions imposed on certain employees within the Department."

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Following his inclusion of the text of The Hatch Act, Garland listed activities that are prohibited for Justice Department officials, whom he said may not:

A. Engage in political activity (including wearing a political button or displaying campaign materials) while on duty, while in a government-occupied office or building (or on video calls while teleworking), while wearing an official uniform or insignia, or while using a government vehicle. An employee may put a bumper sticker on a personal vehicle and park the vehicle in a government-owned or subsidized parking lot but may not use the vehicle in the course of official business. Employees may display signs on their lawns and in their residences.

B. Use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.

C. Solicit, accept or receive a political contribution; solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated volunteer services from an individual who is a subordinate; allow their official titles to be used in connection with fund-raising activities; or host a fundraising event.

D. Run for nomination or election to public office in a partisan election.

E. Solicit or discourage the political activity of any person who is a participant in any matter before the Department.

Justice Department employees also shall not:

F. Distribute fliers printed by a candidate’s campaign committee, a political party or partisan political group.

G. Serve as an officer of a political party, a member of a national, state or local committee of a political party, an officer or member of a committee of a partisan political group, or be a candidate for any of these positions; this restriction includes advising a partisan political party or group on political strategies, areas of law and policies.

H. Organize or reorganize a political party organization or partisan political group.

I. Serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party convention.

J. Address a convention, caucus, rally, or similar gathering of a political party or partisan political group in support of or in opposition to a candidate for partisan political office or political party office, if such address is done in concert with such a candidate, political party, or partisan political group.

K. Organize, sell tickets to, promote, or actively participate in a campaign event, convention or fund-raising activity of a candidate for partisan political office or of a political party or partisan political group; active participation includes making a speech at an event, appearing on the program, on the dais or in the receiving line of an event, or allowing your name to be used in connection with the promotion of the event; (for career employees only, passive participation is allowed and means merely attending a fundraising or campaign event, and acceptance of a gift of free or discounted attendance may be approved if it meets an exception to the gift rules).

L. Canvass for votes in support of or in opposition to a candidate for partisan political office or a candidate for political party office, if such canvassing is done in concert with such a candidate, political party or partisan political group.

M. Endorse or oppose a candidate for partisan political office or a candidate for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material if such endorsement or opposition is done in concert with such a candidate, political party, or partisan political group.

N. Initiate or circulate a partisan nominating petition.

O. Act as recorder, watcher, challenger or similar officer at polling places in consultation or coordination with a political party, partisan political group, or a candidate for partisan political office.

P. Drive voters to polling places in consultation or coordination with a political party, partisan political group, or a candidate for partisan political office.

Garland's internal memo stressed that the aforementioned rules apply "at all times" and that breaches of ethical conduct "can cause public distrust of the government." It further stated that "displaying photographs of candidates for partisan office is considered partisan political activity, and therefore is not permitted in the federal workplace."

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