I’m no expert on the Hatch Act, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to pressure federal “schedule C” employees (non-career workers below the level of Presidential appointees) to take vacation time to work on campaigns. It seems to be happening anyway this year, according to the Washington Post.

Meantime, the career-service workers at the Environmental Protection Agency have been officially reminded of their “right” to support the President’s program when off duty.

The memo said they “are permitted to take an active part in partisan political management and campaigns,” subject to limitations, and reminded them they are free to “express support for the president and his program” when they are off-duty.

Oh yes: the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, in charge of the program that just gave a grant to one of Pat Robertson’s groups, is also in the action.

Is it natural for a President to use his power to help his party? Sure, though it’s nicer to do it legally. But once a President demonstrates his willingness to bend the law in this regard, then the rest of us need to consider carefully just how much power we want to hand him. Let’s remember that when the discussion about a “flexible” personnel system for the Homeland Defense Agency comes up again.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: