Ethics in the Federal Government

2761 Words Dec 15th, 2011 12 Pages
Are Ethics Laws in the Federal Government a Violation of Constitutional Rights?

Abstract

The paper explores the United States Government’s efforts to put in place laws that guide the ethical behavior of its civil service employees. From the founding of the nation, ensuring ethical behavior by government employees has been a recurring theme, and legislation, laws, and executive orders have been implemented at each stage of our government’s growth to guide federal employees in the ethical administration of their duties. However, at what point do the laws become too restrictive on the very citizens who have sworn to uphold our nation’s democratic values? A history of legislation, laws and executive orders is given along with
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Letter Carriers, et. al., 1973. para. 27) Roosevelt felt that further restrictions needed to be put in place to clarify just what actions were prohibited, and added the following verbiage “Persons who, by the provisions of these rules are in the competitive classified service, while retaining the right to vote as they please and to express privately their opinions on all political subjects, shall take no active part in political management or in political campaigns.”4 (CSC v. Letter Carriers, et. al., 1973. para. 28). During the years between 1907 and 1939, with the onset of World War One and President Roosevelt’s New Deal, the federal government grew by leaps and bounds, and with it, the need for the expansion of government ethical guidance.
The Hatch Act
In 1939, in response to a Works Progress Administration (WPA) scandal that erupted after it was discovered that WPA officials were involved in bribery, coercion, and misappropriation of funds to support political campaigns, New Mexico Senator Carl Hatch sponsored a bill aimed eliminating intimidation or bribery of voters and restricting political campaign activities by federal employees (Porter, 1973) The Hatch Act of 1939, as it applies to federal workers, specifically stated in section nine “forbids officers and employees in the executive branch of the Federal Government, with exceptions,

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