More corruption exposed? Watchdog group says US Postal Service let workers do Clinton campaign work

They don’t just sort and deliver the mail anymore.

U.S. postal employees performed union-funded work on behalf of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates while on leave during the 2016 election, in violation of U.S. law, a federal investigative and prosecutorial agency reported.

By doing so, the USPS workers “engaged in systemic violations” of the Hatch Act, which limits political activities of federal employees, the Office of Special Counsel determined, according to Fox News.

The OSC investigation was prompted last year by Sen. Ron Johnson, who received complaints from a constituent and postal employee who claimed that his employer “incurred unnecessary overtime costs” and “improperly coordinated” with his union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), when it released members for several weeks of “union official” leave to participate in campaign work.

The OSC report indicated that approximately 97 letter carriers asked to participate in the campaign activity on behalf of Democratic candidates in coordination with their union. After they were granted unpaid leave from the agency, they were reimbursed by the union.

“The Labor 2016 program sought to ‘elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country,’” the report said. The employees performed get-out-the-vote efforts that included door-to-door canvassing and working phone banks.

The OSC reported that 82 percent of the campaign activity occurred in the 2016 battleground states of Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and involved officials at multiple levels.

Per Fox News:

According to OSC Acting Special Counsel Adam Miles, the NALC provided lists of letter carriers to participate in campaign activity to a senior headquarters USPS labor relations official, who then emailed the lists to other USPS officials across the country. According to Miles, the local officials “interpreted the communications as directives” from USPS headquarters to release the carriers on union official leave without pay.

According to the report, local supervisors raised concerns about the impact this would have on postal operations and initially objected to releasing them, but USPS managers instructed local supervisors 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,” Miles said in prepared testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The committee, which is chaired by Johnson, is scheduled to hold a hearing on the issue Wednesday.

USPS Postmaster General Megan Brennan responded to the allegations in a prepared statement.

“Senior postal leadership did not in any way guide union leadership in selecting the candidates for whom NALC employees could campaign, she said” adding that USPS “did not approve or choose candidates for the unions to support” or “ask the union to advocate for political candidates on behalf of the Postal Service.”

She made it clear that the USPS and the union are two separate entities.

“I also note that our postal unions do not speak for the Postal Service, and the Postal Service does not speak for our unions,” Brennan wrote in her prepared testimony, insisting USPS did not seek to assist the NALC’s “favored candidates.” “This especially applies in a political context, but it is inherent in any collective bargaining relationship.”

She added that if any Hatch Act violations occurred, they were unintentional.

“We will change our practice in consultation with the OSC and based upon OSC’s guidance. This will ensure that we do not put our people in harms way and they do not unintentionally run afoul of the Hatch Act,” Brennan said. “As we have previously communicated to both this Committee and to the OSC, and as the OSC has acknowledged, the Postal Service has always been ready, willing, and able to end or modify our practice as appropriate, consistent with OSC’s recommendation.”

No one on social media appeared particularly surprised at the report.

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But the corruption failed to give a leg up to the Democratic presidential nominee.

“As a federal entity, the USPS must remain politically neutral,” Miles said. “In many localities, the Postal Service is a citizen’s primary point of contact with the federal government, reinforcing the need for strict adherence to the letter and the spirit of the Hatch Act.”

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