Government Employees Seek Right to Take Sides on Trump Impeachment

The union representing most of a million federal and D.C. government workers wants a court to block guidance from the Office of Special Counsel that they said bars them from expressing their opinion, while at work, about whether or not President Trump should be impeached. 

The primary function of the office is "to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices..." 

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking a suspension of the OSC guidance. 

“The Trump impeachment is THE major news story dominating the headlines," said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley. "For federal employees, he is top management, and it is absurd to think impeachment of the boss will not be discussed at lunch and at the water cooler." 

AFGE said its employees have a right to speak about "this important matter." 

The union said it was concerned that OSC had not taken any action against high government officials defending the President, such as Trump counselor Kelly Anne Conway, while "ordinary civil servants who might hold different views must refrain from speaking out or risk losing their jobs." 

The OSC advisory--on application of the Hatch Act prohibition on on-the-job politicking by federal employees--"presumptively restricts federal employees from expressing any opinion on 'impeachment' or policy matters if the words “#resist” or 'resistance' are used." 

AFGE said the guidance advises employees that they can discuss whether the President should or should not be impeached, but can't advocate themselves for either outcome.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.