The American Spectator has been provided with the text of a political message sent on Saturday evening, using Department of Defense communications systems, on behalf of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel.
It is addressed to “all US government employees” and further specified by the DoD sender to go to “all subordinate commands,” in compliance with Hagel’s call for “the widest possible distribution.”
The message contains standard presidential lauding of public service, but goes on to attack the current government shutdown by specifically castigating the House of Representatives, saying that the House — which is unsubtle code for Republicans — should “follow the Senate’s lead…without trying to attach…partisan measures in the process.”
I am not an attorney and do not play one on TV, but my assessment is that the sending of this message via government-owned communications systems is a violation of at least one federal law and at least one military regulation.
The Secretary of Defense, as a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee falls into a class of federal employees considered “further restricted.”
According to a Department of Defense ethics document (describing the application of the Hatch Act to further restricted employees), “political activity is defined as an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office or partisan political group.”
A message which specifically criticizes part of the government which is under the control of a particular political party of “partisan” activities is, on its face, a partisan message aimed at harming a political party, and therefore fits the Hatch Act definition of “political activity.”
One of the specific prohibitions of the Hatch Act is “participating in political activity while on-duty or in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed by DoD.” Clearly this message was sent by someone who was “on-duty” and almost certainly while in a building in which Chuck Hagel and the direct sender, the DoD Executive Secretary, perform their official duties.
In short, I believe this message constitutes a violation of the Hatch Act.
Furthermore, a 2012 memo from the Secretary of the Army “remind(s) the Army community that the use of government information systems and websites for partisan political activities is prohibited.” No doubt all military services have similar prohibitions. See these examples of the US Navy and US Air Force prohibitions against the use of their communications systems for partisan political activity.
The Air Force document linked above puts it clearly: “Military and civilian employees of the federal government are absolutely prohibited from using government supplies, equipment, communication systems and facilities in any political activity.”
In short, I believe this message constitutes a violation of multiple military service regulations.
While I hope the existence of this illegal message, and the reprehensible hyper-partisan behavior of the Obama administration will become known, it is difficult to be optimistic that a lawless group such as Team Obama will be curtailed. After all, the Eric Holder-led Department of Justice has become nothing more than a thuggish enforcer of Alinskyite dogma and tactics, and a defender rather than prosecutor of executive branch malfeasance. The fox is guarding the henhouse.
But that doesn’t mean the American public shouldn’t be reminded as often as possible the true nature of our government, and their brazen willingness to ignore and violate black-letter law.
Separately, one has to wonder whether the Obama administration thinks that military recipients of this message will react kindly to being discussed in the same context as employees of the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. And one has to wonder whether Obama really wants to remind members of the military about a government which found a way to deny the death gratuity to the families of those who lost children, parents, and spouses in battle, and whose Secretary of Defense Hagel just went for the first time to Dover Air Force base to participate in the returning home of the body of an American soldier killed overseas.
UNCLAS SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
PASSED FOR ACTION REROUTE DETECTED
SUBJ: MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
UNCLASSIFIED/ O 011328Z OCT 13 FM SECDEF WASHINGTON DC TO ALDODACT UNCLAS
SUBJ: MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ALDODACT
17/13 ADDRESSEES PASS TO ALL SUBORDINATE COMMANDS
1. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL FORWARDS THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES. PLEASE ENSURE THE WIDEST DISTRIBUTION:
TO THE DEDICATED AND HARD-WORKING EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT:
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS AMERICA'S LARGEST EMPLOYER, WITH MORE THAN 2 MILLION CIVILIAN WORKERS AND 1.4 MILLION ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY WHO SERVE IN ALL 50 STATES AND AROUND THE WORLD. BUT CONGRESS HAS FAILED TO MEET ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS A BUDGET BEFORE THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS TODAY. AND THAT MEANS MUCH OF OUR GOVERNMENT MUST SHUT DOWN EFFECTIVE TODAY.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I WILL KEEP WORKING TO GET CONGRESS TO REOPEN THE GOVERNMENT, RESTART VITAL SERVICES THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DEPEND ON, AND ALLOW PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO HAVE BEEN SENT HOME TO RETURN TO WORK. AT MY DIRECTION, YOUR AGENCIES SHOULD HAVE REACHED OUT TO YOU BY NOW ABOUT WHAT A SHUTDOWN MEANS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES.
TODAY, I WANTED TO TAKE A MOMENT TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU MEAN TO ME-AND TO OUR COUNTRY.
THAT BEGINS BY SAYING THANK YOU FOR THE WORK YOU DO EVERY DAY-WORK THAT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY AND TO AMERICAN FAMILIES' ECONOMIC SECURITY. YOU DEFEND OUR COUNTRY OVERSEAS AND ENSURE THAT OUR TROOPS RECEIVE THE BENEFITS THEY DESERVE WHEN THEY COME HOME. YOU GUARD OUR BORDERS AND PROTECT OUR CIVIL RIGHTS. YOU HELP SMALL BUSINESSES EXPAND AND GAIN NEW FOOTHOLDS IN OVERSEAS MARKETS. YOU GUIDE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EACH DAY THROUGH THE GLORY OF AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARKS AND MONUMENTS, FROM YOSEMITE TO THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. AND MUCH MORE.
YOU DO ALL THIS IN A POLITICAL CLIMATE THAT, TOO OFTEN IN RECENT YEARS, HAS TREATED YOU LIKE A PUNCHING BAG. YOU HAVE ENDURED THREE YEARS OF A FEDERAL PAY FREEZE, HARMFUL SEQUESTER CUTS, AND NOW, A SHUTDOWN OF OUR GOVERNMENT. AND YET, YOU PERSEVERE, CONTINUING TO SERVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH PASSION, PROFESSIONALISM, AND SKILL.
NONE OF THIS IS FAIR TO YOU. AND SHOULD IT CONTINUE, IT WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO KEEP ATTRACTING THE KIND OF DRIVEN, PATRIOTIC, IDEALISTIC AMERICANS TO PUBLIC SERVICE THAT OUR CITIZENS DESERVE AND THAT OUR SYSTEM OF SELF-GOVERNMENT DEMANDS.
PUBLIC SERVICE IS NOBLE. PUBLIC SERVICE IS IMPORTANT. AND BY CHOOSING PUBLIC SERVICE, YOU CARRY ON A PROUD TRADITION AT THE HEART OF SOME OF THIS COUNTRY'S GREATEST AND MOST LASTING ACHIEVEMENTS. IN FACT, MORE THAN 50 CURRENT OR FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HAVE RECEIVED THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR THEIR EFFORTS. IT WAS GRANTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY THAT HELPED BUSINESSES UNLOCK NEW SOURCES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY, AND FROM THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION THAT HELPED ENTREPRENEURS LIKE THE FOUNDERS OF GOOGLE CHANGE THE WORLD. IT IS YOUR EFFORTS THAT WILL HELP THIS COUNTRY MEET THE GREAT CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME-REBUILDING AN ECONOMY WHERE ALL WHO WORK HARD CAN GET AHEAD.
SO WHILE THE BUDGET FIGHTS IN WASHINGTON ARE TOO OFTEN PARTISAN, YOUR SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY MUST NEVER BE. AS ONE OF MY PREDECESSORS, PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH, ONCE SAID, "THERE IS NOTHING MORE FULFILLING THAN TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND TO DO IT WELL. AND THAT IS WHAT OUR SYSTEM OF SELF-GOVERNMENT DEPENDS ON."
THIS SHUTDOWN WAS COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CAN END IT AS SOON AS IT FOLLOWS THE SENATE'S LEAD, AND FUNDS YOUR WORK IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WITHOUT TRYING TO ATTACH HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL AND PARTISAN MEASURES IN THE PROCESS.
HOPEFULLY, WE WILL RESOLVE THIS QUICKLY. IN THE MEANTIME, I WANT YOU TO KNOW-WHETHER YOU ARE A YOUNG PERSON WHO JUST JOINED PUBLIC SERVICE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, OR A CAREER EMPLOYEE WHO HAS DEDICATED YOUR LIFE TO THAT PURSUIT-YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES REMAIN AT THE FRONT OF MY MIND. YOUR AGENCY LEADERS AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DEFEND YOUR WORK AT A TIME WHEN THAT WORK HAS RARELY BEEN MORE IMPORTANT. WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH YOUR AGENCIES TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES APPRISED AND INFORMED OF WHAT IS HAPPENING. AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO GET THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO ALLOW OUR GOVERNMENT TO REOPEN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, AND MAKE SURE YOU RECEIVE THE PAY THAT YOU HAVE EARNED.
THANK YOU, AGAIN, FOR YOUR SERVICE, YOUR SACRIFICE, AND EVERYTHING YOU DO EVERY DAY FOR THIS COUNTRY WE LOVE SO MUCH.
RELEASED BY: MICHAEL L. BRUHN, DOD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
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