Less than a year after the Office of Special Counsel found that Secretary Sebelius violated the Hatch Act last fall, the New York Times reports that she is actively fundraising for a nonprofit group that supports the President’s political agenda.
Federal employees may not solicit charitable or other contributions from persons known to be "prohibited sources" -- e.g. those from whom they cannot personally receive gifts under the federal gift rules. Some of the entities being solicited – including insurance companies – are prohibited sources for HHS.
The reason for the rule banning such solicitation is obvious -- a regulator's solicitation of contributions from persons impacted by the regulator's official duties can amount to extortion. That is not what government is supposed to be about.
5 CFR 2635.808 provides:
“(c) Fundraising in a personal capacity. An employee may engage in fundraising in his personal capacity provided that he does not:
(1) Personally solicit funds or other support from a subordinate or from any person:
(i) Known to the employee, if the employee is other than a special Government employee, to be a prohibited source within the meaning of § 2635.203(d); or
(ii) Known to the employee, if the employee is a special Government employee, to be a prohibited source within the meaning of § 2635.203(d)(4) that is a person whose interests may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of his official duties;
(2) Use or permit the use of his official title, position or any authority associated with his public office to further the fundraising effort, except that an employee who is ordinarily addressed using a general term of address, such “The Honorable,” or a rank, such as a military or ambassadorial rank, may use or permit the use of that term of address or rank for such purposes; or
(3) Engage in any action that would otherwise violate this part.”
§ 2635.203(d) defines a prohibited source:
“(d) Prohibited source means any person who:
(1) Is seeking official action by the employee's agency;
(2) Does business or seeks to do business with the employee's agency;
(3) Conducts activities regulated by the employee's agency;
(4) Has interests that may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of the employee's official duties; or
(5) Is an organization a majority of whose members are described in paragraphs (d) (1) through (4) of this section.”