State Department Employees Banned From Obama Rally
According to the Huffington Post, yesterday, July 24, 2008, State Department officials banned its employees from attending Senator Barack Obama's public political rally in Berlin, Germany because it is a "partisan political activity" that employees working overseas are not allowed to attend.
Other government employees who serve in the United States are not prohibited from attending such events because of the Hatch Act. However, they are not allowed to donate money or volunteer to help any candidate. State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy said that no U.S. government Foreign Service person overseas should be seen to be advocating one side or the other. He also said that it didn't matter which candidate was speaking.
The American Foreign Service Association said the ruling was an "unnecessarily narrow interpretation" of the Foreign Affairs Manual. A retired Foreign Services officer said that "working for the U.S. government overseas should not preclude political activity that you could engage in in the United States," .
The Association met with the State Department's lawyers, saying the ruling violated the employees' civil rights. They were told that although the issue had never been addressed before, they would not let the workers attend the rally.
The ruling can be contested, but it was not changed in enough time for the State Department employees to attend Obama's rally.
Tags: Obama , Employees , Berlin , Rally
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