EPA employees protest Trump pick for agency head


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The law is such an inconvenient thing: In direct violation of the Hatch Act about 30 EPA employees joined a Sierra Club protest of Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

In Chicago, around 30 employees of the EPA’s regional office there joined a protest organized by the Sierra Club environmental group and the American Federation of Government Employees to protest Pruitt’s nomination.

Doug Eriksen, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, downplayed the Chicago protest, saying “employees have a right to take action on their private time.”

When I worked for the FAA it was made very clear to me that the Hatch Act made it illegal for any government employee to participate in partisan political activities. Your freedom to vote the way you wished was not denied, nor was your general freedom of speech, but it was considered a clear conflict of interest to engage in political activities, especially activities that might put you in conflict with the policies of the President and his administration, your boss. These EPA employees are violating that law.

I suspect the reason the Trump administration is not very bothered by this is because they intend to cut the staffing at the EPA significantly, which means many of these people will be gone anyway. No need to get into a legal battle with them.Trump will propose slashing the EPA’s budget, the Republican Congress should gladly go along, and these partisan Democratic Party operatives with this government agency will be gone.

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20 comments

  • Orion314

    To actually see some swamp get drained a little, to see some of these god awful enemies of the United States, these federal “workers” ,,,, now that , is reason for hope.. I’ll believe it when I see it, fingers crossed.

  • Frank

    “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
    Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural address.

  • LocalFluff

    A day or two ago, I saw that the bill HR 899 was introduced by a group of republicans, using legal language that even I can understand:

    “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

  • Commodude

    Protesting is certainly allowed by the Hatch Act, as long as it’s not being done on government time. For a current explanation of the Hatch Act as it applies to government employees:

    http://www.apwu.org/sites/apwu/files/resource-files/leg-hatchactguidelines.pdf

    Were your interpretation correct, almost every postal employee would have been in violation of the act while engaging in several nationwide protests and information sessions concerning the consolidation of postal plants in the past few years.

  • Commodude: Interesting. This was not the interpretation of the Hatch Act given to me when I worked at the FAA from 1975-1978. And even if I misunderstood the law then, it seems to me that it is inappropriate for government workers to be doing this in direct opposition to their boss.

    At the same time, it is also clear that Trump officials are taking a cool-headed approach to this, and likely plan to address the issue during budget talks. Seems smart to me.

  • Commodude

    The interpretation and application of the Hatch act seems to drift over time. For many years, it was understood that wearing partisan political clothing while on the job was strictly prohibited. In the last few years the Office of the Special Counsel has even eroded those provisions through re-interpretation of the law, and now, as long as you’re not in view of the public, you’re fine.

    The Hatch Act needs to be modified, because as written, interpreted, and enforced, I cannot, for instance, run for my local town council, as they are partisan seats. They have nothing to do with my job, and no influence or even the possibility of influence, however, I’m barred from running for the positions as I’m a Federal Employee. Similarly, with the introduction of Federal money down to the local school level courtesy of No Child Left Behind, my ability to even serve on the school board has become doubtful. Like many pieces of legislation, it’s a reminder that the law of unintended consequences is a bitch.

  • wayne

    Commodude–
    I assume you are a mail-carrier. (Personally, I like the Post Office & my mailman. I do however, firmly believe, you guys are overpaid and it’s all on my dime.)

    Would you enlighten us, as to how much you make, what level & step you are at, and specifically– how much you pay in dues to your Union every paycheck?

    Some of us here– we don’t like this sweetheart arraignment wherein we are all required by force to pay taxes, so your Union can take our tax money, and use it against us. (I oppose ALL public sector unions.)

    to muddy the waters even more– 90 minutes of discussion on An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, aka the Hatch Act of 1939, from the Hatch Act Unit at the Office of Special Counsel.

    What Every Federal Employee Needs to Know About the Hatch Act
    OGE Institute for Ethics in Government, Spring of 2016.
    https://youtu.be/TNYuQmhHFfI
    (1:30:29)

    Now that we have a real Attorney General confirmed and on-duty, I would hope things will be different going forward. (As soon as Session’s can root out the hangers-on from the last administration.)

  • Garry

    Wayne wrote, “sweetheart arraignment”

    To quote someone whose posts I like a lot, “HAR!”

    Was this on purpose, or a Freudian slip? Either way, I like it a lot and am stealing it!

  • Commodude

    Wayne,

    First off, never assume.

    Second, not one dime of tax money goes to support the USPS outside of Congressional franking activities and free mailing for the blind. All money for the USPS comes from mailing revenue.

    Third, Union Dues are moot. Despite common belief, the Union(s) are barred from using dues money for political activity. The money for Union political activity comes out of PAC funds, which have nothing to do with dues.

    As to the vid? I’ve been getting Hatch Act briefings since I enlisted in the military and served 20 years. they’re beyond boring at this point. Interpretations shift, but the basic instructions have remained essentially the same. You can protest on your own time with no repercussions.

  • wayne

    Commodude–
    How much are you paid & how much are your Union dues?
    It’s an easy question.

  • Commodude

    It’s also absolutely none of your concern.

  • pzatchok

    Wayne

    That is rather rude so please let it go.

    I am sure that information is out there someplace else.

    If you still cannot find it just stick your head out your door and ask your local mail carrier when they pass by again.

  • wayne

    HA.
    …well, there’s my point. Answers my question perfectly.
    (it’s all public information)
    –>”You people,” all work for me, not the other way around.
    (I appose all unions & especially public-sector unions.)
    Yepper, abso-lutely overpaid.

    “Look for the Union Label”
    SNL Parody
    https://youtu.be/V2CU1cdTlQE
    (1:14)

  • Commodude

    Wayne, there’s no point to answering the questions of someone whose interest in this discussion is to play the part of a jingoistic bully.

    You have no idea what I do or where I stand in the pay scale, yet you insist on assuming.

    I’ve read your comments on other discussions here and they’re rather more intelligent and on point, in this case, you’re being nothing more than an impolite troll.

  • wayne

    I’m not trying to personally attack anyone here. I have no idea who anyone is in real life, nor do I really care.
    –These pay scales are all public information. Nobody is “underpaid.”
    –Why are “union-dues” such a touchy subject?

    Is this phraseology less politically-incorrect?—
    “Those positions, command an inordinate above market pay-rate, because of their unique set-up & governmental affiliation, not available to all other business equally.”
    That applies to the EPA and the Post Office.
    -My Post Office was built in 1938– that was tax money. “Spinning off” the Post Office in 1971, didn’t make it a “business” then and it certainly isn’t now.

    I’ve worked in the state sector, non-profits, and private-sector (employee & employer) and have been union & non-union.

  • wayne

    Richard Epstein; “What’s wrong with Labor Unions?”
    https://www.libertarianism.org/media/free-thoughts/whats-wrong-labor-unions
    (42:45 audio)

  • LocalFluff

    To put unions in perspective. In Sweden unions are law makers (in parallel to the parliament and the 50 or so autonomous islamic states that, funded by the government, have firmly established sharia law and their own armed militia in all larger Swedish towns). The union on their own, in closed meetings, dictates who must and mustn’t work where, everyone’s salaries and who is to be fired or must stay until bankruptcy. No worker has any rights neither by law or private agreement, it is all “taken care of” by the union for them (the union dictates who must be their member and thus “represented” by them).

    Larger employers love this because the union leaders are very cheap to bribe since none of them have any qualification and no alternative income but living off small bribes. It’s much more flexible to deal with the local drunken union leader than having democratic public laws regulating employments. The current PM of Sweden is a former union leader, for the metal industry, which has completely collapsed during his corrupt “career”, making hundreds of thousands unemployed. The socialist party elite that crowned him in secret meetings, called him “A great negotiator”. I haven’t heard that term since Trump got nominated. It’ll be interesting to see the results of his 5 minutes together with the president. He will leave that meeting naked. And shaved. So little will he have left, the “negotiating” union leader.

  • wayne

    Economic & Political Organization of Nazi Germany
    from “Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression”
    Volume 1 (of 42 total) aka “the blue series” (1946)
    http://loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/NT_Vol-I.pdf

  • pzatchok

    I wonder if Trump will start placing “auditors” in government offices around the country?

    Hey I have to work with the threat of low performance equaling a trip to unemployment everyday. Why no the government workers?

    We need to put a boot heal to the everyday slacker. Those collage protesters who manage to get a government job because they knew someone who pulled them in.

    Your average Democrat does not go out protesting. They go to work. These are just your typical snowflakes.

  • LocalFluff

    @pzatchok Of course DJ Trump has some ideas about that. He maybe has only vague ideas about stuff like the Middle East, but he is a person person who has written books and made TV shows about hiring and firing and motivating people. I think “auditing” (kind of) his staff is why he enjoys doing this. Every government employee will have his and her behind whipped red 04:30 every morning when He wakes “up before the enemey”.

    Stalin said that it takes a very brave soldier to be a coward in his army.

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