Military involvement in political activities
By Tech. Sgt. Todd M. McFeeley, 171st Public Affairs
/ Published April 19, 2012
Coraopolis, PA -- There is a constitutional tradition of a politically neutral military establishment under civilian control. This includes non-partisanship by the military and the elimination of undue military influence on the political process.
There is a difference between partisan political activity and non-partisan political activity. Partisan political activity is activity in support of or related to candidates representing, or issues specifically identified with national or state political parties. Non-partisan political activity is activity not in support of or related to candidates representing, or issues specifically identified with national or state political parties.
There are some rules and guidelines to reference when getting involved in political activities. There are different rules depending on status whether it is: traditional Guardsman, AGR or civilian technician. Many of the governing rules are clearly defined under AFI 51-902, Political Activities by Members of the US Air Force. Another set of rules by which to be familiar with is AFI the "Failure to Obey Order" of the PCMJ §6016.
Permissible activities for traditional Guardsmen
· Register and vote in elections.
· Express personal opinions as individual citizens, but not as a representative of the military.
· Make voluntary campaign contributions to political parties or organizations.
· Attend partisan and nonpartisan political gatherings when not in uniform.
· Campaign and hold elective partisan office (not in uniform).
· Sign petitions.
· Display political bumper stickers.
· Hold certain civil offices.
Prohibited activities for traditional Guardsmen
· Use of position in the ANG to assist them in obtaining political office or endorsing a political candidate.
· Authorize government services or support to candidate (i.e., housing, meals, etc.).
· Soliciting votes or contributions for a candidate or issue.
· Selling tickets or actively promoting political dinners and fundraisers.
· While in uniform, endorsing a particular candidate or positions, or attend a partisan or non-partisan political function.
· Participating in partisan political management, campaigns or conventions.
· Displaying large political signs or posters on private vehicles.
· Different rules when serving on Title 10
- Be a candidate for partisan political office
- March or ride in partisan political parade
- Make campaign contributions to partisan political candidates
- Use contemptuous words against officeholders defined in UCMJ
Applies to ANG on Title 10 for 30+ days
· Hatch Act prohibits:
- Use of authority or position to influence election.
- Knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving a political contribution from any person.
- Knowingly soliciting or discouraging participation in a political activity by anyone having business with the ANG.
- Being a candidate for public office in partisan political campaign.
- Engaging in political activity while:
· On duty
· In a government office
· Wearing an official uniform
· Using a government vehicle
- Host a political fundraiser
- Invite anyone to a political fundraiser
· Permissible Activities:
- Register and vote
- Contribute money to political organizations
- Attend political fundraising functions (not in uniform)
- Attend and be active at political rallies (not in uniform)
Anti-Lobbying Act 18 USC §1913
· To "lobby" is to engage in personal contacts or to disseminate information with the objective of influencing public officials with regard to legislation and other policy decisions.
ACT - appropriated funds may not be used to pay for any services or resources designed to influence a member of congress to favor or oppose legislation.
Please contact the base legal office with any questions on this topic. If there is any doubt, it is always best to check with legal before proceeding.