The United States Postal Service violated federal law by letting employees do union-funded campaign work for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats during the 2016 election cycle, according to an Office of Special Counsel report.
USPS employees can do some political work on leave, but the OSC found that the Postal Service showed a "bias" favoring the union's 2016 campaign operation, Fox News reported Wednesday. According to the OSC, the USPS "engaged in systemic violations" of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.
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The union in question, the National Association of Letter Carriers, had about 97 members request leave without pay in order to do campaign work for Democratic candidates. The Letter Carrier Political Fund, the union's political action committee that endorsed Clinton in 2016, paid the postal employees while they were campaigning, according to the OSC report.
The OSC found that the NALC provided "lists of letter carriers to participate in campaign activity to a senior headquarters USPS labor relations official," Fox News reported. That individual then emailed the lists to other USPS officials across the country, and local officials "interpreted the communications as directives" from USPS headquarters to release the carriers on union official leave without pay, according to the report.
However, local supervisors had concerns about letting the employees leave work and how it would affect their operations. They initially objected until USPS managers instructed them to let the workers participate.
"We concluded that the USPS practice of facilitating and directing carrier releases for the union's political activity resulted in an institutional bias in favor of NALC's endorsed political candidates, which the Hatch Act prohibits," OSC Acting Special Counsel Adam Miles wrote in prepared testimony for a hearing on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is investigating the matter.