Campaign season is upon us – Don’t forget rules governing political activities

If you’re thinking about getting involved in a political campaign or just want to share your political views, don’t forget that there are state and federal laws and City policies that restrict political activities in the workplace and the use of City resources such as computers, telephones, e-mail accounts, etc. 

Allowed political activities

As long as you follow state and federal laws and City policies that govern political activity, a City employee may:

·         Register and vote in elections.

·         Become a member of a political party or other political organization and participate in its activities.

·         Help get voters to the polls.

·         Organize or participate in political rallies, demonstrations or political fundraisers.

·         Display a political sign in the yard of his/her home.

·         Express an opinion as an individual privately and publicly on political subjects and candidates.

·         Manage or work on political campaigns.

·         Make political financial contributions or solicit political contributions on behalf of another’s political campaign. (Please note that City employees need to be very careful especially if soliciting from other City personnel or from any person or firm doing business with the City.)

·         Wear a political T-shirt or campaign sticker, badge or button at work during the dates when City Hall is NOT serving as a polling place.    

Restrictions on political activity when City Hall is serving as a polling place

City Hall becomes a polling place on Sept. 20 when absentee voting begins. While absentee and in-person voting is under way, City employees may not do the following within 100 feet of City Hall:

·         Wear a button, pin or T-shirt endorsing or opposing a candidate or ballot question.

·         Carry or show a sign, poster or sticker endorsing or opposing a candidate or ballot question.

·         Take any other action to try to persuade a voter to vote for or refrain from voting for a candidate or ballot question.

Restrictions related to work time and materials

Minnesota state law, City ordinances and City policies place restrictions on City employees’ political activity. City employees may not:

·         Engage in political activity during work hours or let political activity interfere with job duties.

·         Use City phones, City-issued cell phones, computers, laptops, vehicles, e-mail accounts or other City-owned supplies, equipment or resources for political purposes. (Please note this restriction includes using City maintained e-mail lists, City e-mail addresses or City computers to send e-mails or Tweets, create blogs, or post Facebook comments.) The restrictions on personal use of City electronics is detailed at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/policies/policies_electronic-communications-policy

·         Post or distribute political materials in any City facility or on any City-owned equipment.

·         Use their City position — authority or influence — to compel another person to do something political.

Additional restrictions

If all or part of a City employee’s salary is paid for with federal funds or if a City employee has job responsibilities connected to programs which are financed, in whole or in part, by federal loans or grants, the Hatch Act, a federal law, applies and the City employee is prohibited from:

If all of an employee’s salary is paid for with federal funds, the employee must resign from City employment to run for partisan office.

Questions?

If you have any questions about political activity, as it relates to City employment, you may contact Susan Trammell, Ethics Officer, at 612-673-3230 or susan.trammell@minneapolismn.gov.

Published Sep. 18, 2013