• Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees

    There are special campaign guidelines for public employees during a campaign. The overriding principle is that public employees may not use their work time to support or oppose measures, candidates, recalls, political committees or petitions. Oregon election law does not specify any amount of work time that may be used before a violation occurs, so a public employee may be found in violation even though they used a minimal amount of work time.

    An elected official or any other employer of a public employee may not require or direct public employees to prepare or distribute advocacy materials. This is a quick reference guide about basic restrictions on political campaigning by public employees. A more comprehensive, detailed document can be found on the Oregon Secretary of State's Elections Division web site: www.oregonvotes.gov/doc/publications/restrictions.pdf.

    Key Points

    • The general guideline is that any activity or information by public employees must be impartial during the work day. No public resources may be used for any political activity.
    • Restrictions apply to all non-elected public employees.
    • Employees may not engage in any activity in support or opposition to a candidate or measure during work hours.
    • Salaried employees cannot perform work that falls within their job duties, regardless of time and place. Salaried staff should keep notes about work that may be considered official and announce that they are acting in a personal capacity at public meetings, etc.
    • When assisting with voter registration, staff must remain impartial and non-partisan.

    What is allowed?

    • Union bulletin boards are regulated by collective bargaining agreements and are not subject to election law restrictions.
    • Union distribution of political material to their members is regulated by union contracts and is allowable.
    • Political buttons and t-shirts are allowable if allowed by the employer. If allowed, they must be equally allowed regardless of political party of issue.
    • If a public building is accessible to a group for political activity, it must be made equally accessible to all political groups.
    • Employees may prepare and distribute impartial informational materials during the work day and using district resources.
    • Employees may express personal political views during personal time, but not during work hours or while acting in an official capacity.

    What is not allowed?

    • Employees may not promote or oppose a candidate or measure during the work day or using materials and equipment at work.
    • Employees may not work on behalf of a political action committee while on the job, including collecting funds, submitting forms or completing correspondence.
    • Employees may not use their official title in materials, even if those are prepared during personal time.
    • Employees may not submit newspaper guest opinions unless they are impartial.
    • Employees may not draft, type, format or edit a resolution for a political issue or position. They may not urge a vote on a resolution to a board or announce a position on a resolution to the media.
    • Public employees may not post to government twitter, facebook, etc. Material that contains political advocacy. If a government agency interacts with candidates in new media (i.e., if a candidate left a comment on an agency facebook post), the agency must ensure that they treat all candidates equally and that any agency interaction remains impartial.

    Employees who are unsure of these rules or have additional questions should contact the Dean of Advancement’s office.

  • The election is November 4, 2014

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