The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations issued a memorandum
revisiting the state’s policy regarding the need to separate
political campaign activities by state employees from the
conduct of official state business.
While employees are not discouraged from participating in the
political campaign process, they must keep their political
campaign activities separate from the discharge of their duties
as state employees. For the purposes of these guidelines,
“political campaign activities” include any act, activity, or
event designed to communicate a political endorsement, urge
voters to vote for a particular candidate, support a political
party, or raise funds for a political candidate or party.
Political campaign activities—such as campaigning, coordinating
volunteers, and soliciting or receiving campaign
contributions—are not within the scope of the official duties of
executive branch employees and they may not conduct campaign
activities on state time. Performing political campaign
activities on state time may subject employees to criminal
prosecution and the loss of employment.
In addition, and in furtherance of the Governor’s Executive
Order Number 7, all state vehicles, offices, equipment, and
resources, including telephones, computers, fax machines, office
supplies, postage, photocopying machines, and support staff
assistance, are the property of the state, and employees may not
use that property for assistance for political campaign
activities. In those limited circumstances where employees are
permitted personal use of state property—for example, vehicles
assigned to individuals for both business and personal
use—employees must make an appropriate accounting of the use of
that property for political campaign activity.
Employees are also reminded that they are prohibited from
engaging in the political activities stated in Section 74 of the
Public Officers Law, Section 107 of the Civil Service Law, and
Sections 17–156 of the Election Law.
Section 74 of the Public Officers Law states a Code of Ethics
for state employees. Information on the restrictions that
Section 74 places on political activities of state employees may
be found on the
New York State Web site.
Section 107 of the Civil Service Law protects state civil
service employees from discriminatory practices based on
political affiliations. Under this provision, covered
individuals may not be asked to reveal their political
affiliations or opinions in order to determine fitness for
office. In addition, the appointment, selection, or removal of
civil service employees to or from state employment may not be
affected or influenced by political opinions or affiliations.
Section 107 further prohibits state employees from using their
official positions to compel state employees to give political
contributions and from using state offices to collect such
contributions. Finally, Section 107 prohibits state employees
from using or promising to use their official authority to
coerce or persuade the vote or political action of any
Section 17–156 of the Election Law similarly prohibits those who
hold or are seeking public office from corruptly using or
promising to use, directly or indirectly, any official authority
to aid any person in securing public employment in return for
the political vote or influence of that person. In addition,
public employees may not accept or request the payment or
contribution of any valuable consideration in return for a
promise of a public appointment.
In addition, the federal “Hatch Act,” 15 USC § 1501, et seq.,
applies to any state employee whose principal employment is in
connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by
federal loans or grants. State employees subject to the
provisions of the Hatch Act may not: (1) be candidates for
elective office; (2) use official authority or influence for the
purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an
election or a nomination for office; or (3) directly or
indirectly coerce, attempt to coerce, command, or advise a state
or local officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute
anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency,
or person for political purposes.
Questions on the above may be referred to Susan Earshen,
associate vice president, Human Resource Management, at ext. 3042.
Source: Bulletin, Vol. 55, No. 6, September 24, 2009