New year means fresh round of DOD ethics reminders
The Defense Department over the past week has released reminders of ethical behavior for DOD personnel, both civilian and uniformed, with special emphasis on political activity as the election year gets into full swing – and after an incident in Iowa involving a very eager Ron Paul supporter who happened to be in military uniform.
It seems DOD officials want to make sure the guidelines are well understood, particularly in light of the Iowa incident, which took place on Jan. 3, the night of the Iowa caucuses, and involved an Army reservist who publicly spoke at a Ron Paul rally and endorsed that candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
CPL Jesse Thorsen was not in an active status at the time, but could face disciplinary action, according to a DOD release as well as a local news report that contains video of the incident.
It’s not that DOD brass forbids political activity – in fact, civic involvement is encouraged, the release noted. But there are rules as to how political engagement can take place, and they differ between military members, civilian personnel and Senior Executive Service members.
Service members are allowed to attend political gatherings and rallies as spectators but cannot do so wearing a uniform, they are not allowed to make public political speeches, officially serve on partisan groups or participate in partisan campaigns or events. No political engagement of any kind is allowed while they are in uniform.
Civilian DOD employees’ political activity is governed by the Hatch Act, which applies to all employees of the executive branch except for the president and vice president. Those falling in this category are allowed to be active in political groups and speak at political gatherings. They can serve as officers of partisan groups, but they cannot be involved in fundraising.
Members of the Senior Executive Service come under special rules that depend on certain activities and length of an SES career.
Beyond the political ethics refresher, the DOD Office of General Counsel Standards of Conduct Office released some general housekeeping on Jan. 6, covering issues such as the continuing pay freeze, financial disclosure and key related deadlines (Feb. 15 for confidential, May 15 for public) and a reminder to file those training plans. That release also includes some notes on gifts and more on charitable fundraising.
A lot to keep track of, no?
Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM