On August 4, Dr. Kevin Pezzi -- a writer for Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com who Media Matters for America has noted for his absurdly self-aggrandizing claims, racist writings, and sexual inventions including "penile enlargement techniques," released a two-part screed against former USDA appointee Shirley Sherrod, smearing her as a racist. (I guess Breitbart's not at all concerned that Sherrod has said she will sue him for defamation, and that legal experts believe she has a case).
In the first part of his "Why You May Not Want to Join the Shirley Sherrod Fan Club," series, Pezzi made the absurd claim that a comment Sherrod made during the now-infamous NAACP speech "may also be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity":
Sherrod complained, "Now, we endured eight years of the Bush's and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President." That's classic Sherrod in terms of its lack of eloquence, but it may also be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.
If only Pezzi had done a little research; a quick search would have assuaged his concerns. A manual by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel -- the agency tasked with enforcing the Hatch Act -- titled "Political Activity and the Federal Employee" -- specifically discusses the extent to which federal employees can express their personal opinions on "political subjects and candidates" under the Hatch Act:
Q. To what extent are [federal] employees permitted to express opinions on political subjects and candidates?
A. Employees may express their views publicly or privately about a candidate or about political issues. However, they may not engage in active campaigning for partisan candidates.
With regard to political questions and public issues, employees are entitled to express their views as citizens. In addition, employees are free to express their views and take action as individual citizens on such questions as referendum matters, changes in municipal ordinances and constitutional amendments. Issues involving highways, schools, housing and taxes are other examples of questions on which employees are usually free to take action. They can participate in meetings where these issues are discussed and they may join other citizens
Another Sherrod smear easily debunked by Google.
You'd think that Breitbart and his employ would have learned their lesson about publishing absurd and unfounded accusations first and fact-checking later. Just keep digging that hole, guys.
- Andrew Breitbart