Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

Political Activity Do's and Don'ts

Restrictions on Political Activity by Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointees

You may not:

  1. Solicit political contributions at any time from anyone.
  2. Solicit subordinates to engage in off-duty volunteer or paid political activity — they should volunteer or apply to the campaign or party committee directly.
  3. Use government long distance lines for calls or faxes — instead, use your personal or a campaign credit or calling card.
  4. Use your staff to prepare your political materials or arrange for exclusively political travel; but coordinating mixed travel is a necessity.
  5. Subsidize political activity with government travel
    • mixed official travel in conjunction with House, Senate or Party events must be allocated using the hard time formula;
    • mixed travel in conjunction with a Presidential campaign event should be allocated 100% towards the political purpose;
    • payment by the party or candidate committee must be in advance and at the commercial, not government rate, unless that rate makes the official travel more expensive.
  6. Accept compensation for holding a campaign office or performing service for a campaign - you are already compensated for a 24-hour day.
  7. Seek the nomination for, or election to, a partisan political office
  8. Exceed your personal contribution limits by making cash donations or in-kind support if your travel is not being covered by the campaign:
    • $1,000 per candidate per election
    • Additional $1,000 in campaign related travel expenses per election
    • Presidential candidates accepting public funds can accept no private contributions for the general election.
    • (Note: all contributions are posted on the Internet by the FEC)

Permissible Political Activity by Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointees

You may:

  1. Mix official, personal and political travel - if properly allocated.
  2. Take an active part in political activities (other than direct fundraising) on government premises.
  3. Attend and speak at fundraisers; but may not solicit contributions.
  4. Participate in political activities while wearing an official uniform or insignia.
  5. Use your Government office to hold campaign meetings.
  6. Write political speeches; but not direct non-PAS subordinates to do so.
  7. Publicly endorse candidates.
  8. Take an active part in, or manage, a partisan political campaign.
  9. Attend political events and actively participate therein.
  10. For events at which you are speaking, permit political event organizers to use your name, preceded by "the Hon." on the invitation, but not identify you by title. Your title, for biographical purposes, may, however, be noted on the program at the event.
  11. Sign a petition.
  12. Seek the nomination for, or election to, a non-partisan office.
  13. Serve as an uncompensated officer of a political party or other political group.