The Washington Examiner broke a story this week about how the leader of a Department that shouldn't even exist, sent out an email to his employees inviting them to attend Sharpton's rally which was organized to counter Glenn Beck's "Restore America" rally on the Mall in D.C. this past weekend. Sharpton cooked up his anti-Beck rally after Beck announced that he was planning a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, themed "Restoring Honor", where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in 1963.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, attended the rally led by "the Reverend" Al Sharpton. He sent around this email to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education:
"ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the 'Reclaim the Dream' rally and march"
So let me get this right.. Duncan used state funded computers and resources to send out a message for his staff to attend the Sharpton event - and not the Beck event - so he didn't even offer a choice for his staff regarding both events. He just wanted them to show up to the Sharpton rally - and this is supposed to be OK? One commenter to this article thinks that someone should investigate how many of these employees, charged air fare, lodging, and meals for this event, under the guise of a sanctioned meeting. No doubt there were several federal employees who charged their government American Express accounts for travel and lodging for this event.
In any case - this is wrong on so many levels.
The Washington Examiner reported this after they learned of the e-mail from a Department of Education employee who felt uncomfortable with Duncan's request:
Although the e-mail does not violate the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from participating in political campaigns, Education Department workers should feel uneasy, said David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute.
"It sends a signal that activity on behalf of one side of a political debate is expected within a department. It's highly inappropriate ... even in the absence of a direct threat," Boaz said. "If we think of a Bush cabinet official sending an e-mail to civil servants asking them to attend a Glenn Beck rally, there would be a lot of outrage over that."...
Obama avoided comment on Saturday's dueling rallies, but Duncan took the podium alongside Sharpton and 30 other speakers on the football field of Dunbar High School. ...
Speakers at the Sharpton rally praised Obama and took jabs at the Tea Party....
Education Department spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya defended Duncan's decision. "This was a back-to-school event," she said.
Back to school event indeed.
State sponsored activity is more like it.
One which it expects its employees to attend.
And you thought that only happened in Fascist or Communist countries.
FYI - The Hatch Act is here.
Read it and tell me if you think Duncan violated the law.
I think he did - despite what this article said.
"supervisory employees may not invite subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggest to subordinates that they attend the political event or undertake any partisan political activity"Sharpton's event WAS indeed a partisan political activity. He stated, "[Conservatives] think we showed up [to vote for Barack Obama] in 2008 and that we won't show up again. But we know how to sucker-punch, and we're coming out again in 2010"... plus speakers at the Sharpton rally praised Obama and took jabs at the Tea Party. That is indeed political.
Duncan used taxpayer funded computers systems, servers and networks to get his message out.
Clearly Duncan violated the law and should be removed from his office immediately.