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QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR DOMINICK AND ANSWERS BY NICHOLAS CRAF
1. What efforts, if any, have you taken as Acting A88ociate Director for Citizens Placement, in your various VISTA administrative posts, or in any other Federal administrative position in drafting rules, regulations or policy guidelines, to insure that employees not engage in political activities!
Answer. While I have not personally drafted such rules, regulations or guide lines, I have insisted on strict adherence to existing laws, rules, regulations and guidelines to insure that our employees do not engage in political activities.
Volunteers, of course, are not under my jurisdiction but during my tenure at VISTA, a number of publications were issued in the form of recruitment mate rials, which dealt most clearly with the restrictions of the Hatch Act, samples of two which are attached :
[Excerpt from VISTA: Questions and Answers] VISTA Volunteers are not formally employed by the Federal Government as civil servants. They are, however, eligible for work disability benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act, and they are subject to the political restrictions of the Hatch Act. Under the Hatch Act, a Volunteer may not engage in partisan politics in any leadership role, actual or apparent. Volunteers may join and privately support any party of their choice.
[Excerpts on Political Guidelines from VISTA Volunteer Handbook] The purpose of the following commentary is to advise and assist you in carrying out your job effectively, and in a manner consistent with the law and OEO/VISTA policies. A. VISTA Policy
In general, Volunteers are not permitted to assume or accept positions of leadership, or to become identified with a particular faction in the communities in which they serve. Such leadership or identification will very often inhibit, rather than assist, the people whom you are serving, in making their own decisions.
The VISTA philosophy of individual and community development is based on experience indicating that real change among people can only occur when they themselves take the initiative. VISTA's mission is to work with people in their communities toward this end.
This approach requires that during your service as a VISTA Volunteer you must subordinate your personal views on specific political (or other) issues to the primary goal of helping build a community able and determined to arrive at its own decisions, and to assert its oron proper influence.
The goals of community development will be frustrated if you impose your own views and judgments on others, no matter how valid these judgments might be. To even attempt to do so would prevent the people you are serving from developing their own goals. The VISTA mission is to foster the development of a community of responsible citizens actively involved and participating in the life of their community. In this process it is necessary that the poor be given tools to develop their own leaders and not be subjected to imposed leadership as in the past.
During your service in VISTA, you are always "on duty" when you are working or in contact with the people served. You are the VISTA program and presence in the community in which you serve. For this reason, these regulations are applicable at all times during your period of service.
In addition to the limitations implicit in the goals of community development, there are certain prohibitions imposed by law. The Hatch Act
VISTA Volunteers are considered employees of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government for purposes of the Hatch Act. This Act does not prevent you from holding and expressing your own views on political subjects. It does, however, prohibit you froin engaging in partisan political activities of any sort, at any time during your service. Volunteers may not assume a position of political leadership or become prominently or publicly identified with any political party or candidate.
You may not publicly support or speak in behalf of, or against, a given political party or political candidate, or publicly take sides with regard to any political issue. (A political issue is one which is prominently identified with any political party as a part of its platform or general policy.)
Volunteers are also prohibited from taking an active part in political management for any party, or in any partisan political campaign. Activities specifically prohibited under the Hatch Act include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Service on any political committee, party, or similar organization; (2) any solicitation on behalf of any such organization; (3) any service in connection with any political meeting or rally, including addressing such meeeting; (4) any activity at the polls, including furnishing transportation, helping get out the vote, or acting as checker or otherwise for any party or candidate; (5) publication of any letter, article, etc., on behalf of any party, faction, or candidate; (6) involvement as a candidate for any party; (7) distribution of campaign material or nominating petitions; or (8) engaging in any canvassing or_solicitation drive for any party, faction, or candidate.
In short, the Hatch Act prohibits any covered employee from engaging in, or becoming substantially involved in, partisan politics in any leadership role, actual or apparent. Volunteers may, however, join and privately support any party of their choice and may attend meetings, rallies, etc. Such activities must, however, be carried on at times and in such a manner as to avoid conflict with the Volunteer's project activities.
The Hatch Act applies to Volunteers at all times during their service, including periods of leave. A violation of the Hatch Act would require discipline of the Volunteer, including termination. C. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, As Amended
Under Section 603(b) of our Act, no program receiving OEO assistance, including VISTA projects, shall be operated in such a manner as to identify that program "with (1) any partisan or nonpartican political activity or any other political activity associated with a candidate, or contending faction or group in an election for public or party office, (2) any activity to provide voters or prospective voters with transportation to the polls or similar assistance in connection with any such election, or (3) any voter registration activity."
The Director of OEO is required to establish regulations and procedures to enforce this section including, “summary suspension of assistance or other action necessary to permit enforcement on an emergency basis."
This section clearly prohibits any political or electoral activity in any election for public or party office. Its coverage extends to any public election, including CAP elections and local nonpartisan contests such as school board and municipal elections.
Section 613, recently amended, prohibits any individual working with any community action agency or other agency assisted by the Office of Economic Opportunity from planning, initiating, participating in, or otherwise aiding or assisting in the conduct of "any unlawful demonstration, rioting or civil disturbance.” The legality of any demonstration or similar activity will depend on local law.
Since violation of these sections may require termination of all OEO assistance to the people directly involved, great care must be taken to avoid activities or programs which might be or become violative.
Certain areas of specific concern under these sections should, however, be commented upon. D. Citizenship Education
Your work as a Volunteer may call for your participation in programs for Citizenship Education, in the course of which you will seek to make the people you serve aware of the necessity of exercising their full rights as citizens. This activity is not prohibited. But, you must avoid expressing personal preferences for parties or candidates, or on political issues. In addition, care must be taken to avoid any suggestion or indication that such a program is being carried on in support of, or in opposition to, any party faction, or candidate, regardless of whether the issues facing the people are specifically political, or officially nonpartisan such as CAP elections, nonparty municipal elections, and the like.
In the course of Citizenship Education, you may indicate that it is the duty of every citizen to register and to vote, but you must avoid giving any assistance to any registration drive or to any campaign to get out the vote. Good Citizenship Education will create in the people who are involved the ability and the incentive to take any action which is appropriate for their own welfare, and assist them to fully engage in the life of their community. E. Demonstrations and Protest Activities
While engaged in carrying out his duties, the Volunteer may, as a part of his sponsor's program, participate in lawful and nonpolitical demonstrations and protest activities which are directly related to the Volunteer's project, and are not in violation of any OEO or VISTA guidelines, and which are approved by the Volunteer's sponsor as a part of its project activity.
The first consideration is whether the proposed rally, demonstration, or protest march is principally and specifically concerned with combating poverty in the context of the Volunteer's assigned project activities. If not, your participation would constitute a disservice to the people whom you are serving.
The second consideration is whether the activity is adequately organized. All too often, poorly planned demonstrations result in unlawful activity by some of the participants. In such event, you might have the difficult burden of establishing that your participation in the lawful demonstration was not related to resulting illegal activities. It is the duty of every citizen to avoid illegal activity at his peril. Great care and judgment must be exercised since violation of the law in this area might cause all assistance to the people involved, including the services of Volunteers, to be terminated.
The third consideration involves use of the VISTA name in an inappropriate manner. While the Volunteer retains this right to hold and privately express his views on any public issue, he does not have the right to publicly indicate in any manner that his views are those of any number of fellow Volunteers or of VISTA or OEO. In short, the Volunteer may speak for himself, but not for VISTA or other Volunteers. The Volunteer may not use his VISTA identification, directly or indirectly, for purposes unrelated to his project activities.
2. Although I realize that ACTION employees fall under the Hatch Act, I am interested in what additional office policies you will pursue to insure that ACTION employees will not engage in lobbying or any other form of political activities.
Answer. The effects of the Hatch Act are explained to all employees. With respect to volunteers specifically, various handbooks and manuals are made available setting out the Agency's policies on political activity and the subject is also covered in training. These policies go further than the Hatch Act in limiting such activity.
With respect to specific additional office policies in this regard :
1. CSC posters listing prohibited activities are scheduled to be posted in all offices, including field offices, in early February.
2. Standards of conduct for ACTION employees, including discussion of improper political activity, have been drafted by the Agency and will shortly be distributed to all employees.
3. Copies of the Hatch Act and CSC summaries are distributed to all senior level employees.
4. On a semi-annual basis all employees are reminded of the restrictions in posed by the Hatch Act on federal employees by the Personnel Office.
I will do everything within my power to insure not only that all employees are made aware of these policies, but also that such policies are enforced.
3. Will you take a strong stand, as A88ociate Director of ACTION, to insure that ACTION employees will not engage in any political activities !
Answer. Without any question, I will take a strong stand on this matter.
H. GUYFORD STEVER, OF PENNSYLVANIA, TO BE DIRECTOR
OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
NOVEMBER 30, 1971
Printed for the use of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1972
COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE
HARRISON A. WILLIAMS, JR., New Jersey, Chairman JENNINGS RANDOLPH, West Virginia JACOB K. JAVITS, New York CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island
PETER H. DOMINICK, Colorado EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts RICHARD S. SCHWEIKER, Pennsylvania GAYLORD NELSON, Wisconsin
BOB PACKWOOD, Oregon WALTER F. MONDALE, Minnesota
ROBERT TAFT, JR., Ohio THOMAS F. EAGLETON, Missouri
J. GLENN BEALL, JR., Maryland
ROBERT T. STAFFORD, Vermont
STEWART E. MCCLURE, Staff Director
ROBERT E. NAGLE, General Counsel
EUGENE MITTELMAN, Minority Counsel