FAA supervisors told employees they could be fired if Republicans win

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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On Wednesday, Cause of Action, a government watchdog group, released documents involving two supervisors at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who may have told employees how to vote in order to keep their job in violation of federal law.

CoA revealed that John J. Hickey, deputy associate administrator for aviation safety at the FAA, told employees at a May 23 staff meeting at the Seattle Flight Standards Division Office that “if the Republicans win office our jobs may be effected (furloughs)…if the Democrats win office then our jobs would not be effected [sic],” according to one e-mail.

“Therefore, when Mr. Hickey made the following short summation of comments,” another employee wrote in an e-mail, “‘If a conservative Republican congress is elected we would probably see continued and/or additional budget cuts… If a Democratic congress was elected, thing would probably remain flat.’”

“My understanding is that more than one employee’s perception was that Mr. Hickey was essentially telling them how to vote if they wanted to keep their job,”a supervisor in Seattle FSDO, said in an email released by CoA.

Hickey and another FAA supervisor, Raymond Towles, deputy director of flight standards field operations, may have made similar comments at other mandatory meetings at other FAA field offices.

“If what has been reported is true, it is a clear violation of the Hatch Act, and the guilty parties should suffer the consequences.  It is totally inappropriate for federal workers to engage in partisan politics on the job,” said House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican.

“Also, what Hickey and Towles allegedly said happens to be untrue,” Petri continued. “No matter who wins in November, the FAA will continue to serve a necessary function keeping the skies safe.”

The Hatch Act prohibits executive agency employees from engaging in political activity intended to affect the result of an election.

After the May 23 meeting, whistleblowers came forward and alerted FAA officials in the Northwest Mountain Region Office.

An investigation is now being conducted into both supervisors for telling employees “how to vote if they wanted to keep their job,” sources tell Cause of Action.

Cause of Action sent a request for investigation to Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III, but had yet to receive a response.

Though CoA says that sources familiar with the matter say the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has begun an investigation.

“The egregious abuse of power for political gain is exactly what Cause of Action aims to expose,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. “These career employees were led to believe their jobs were at risk if their political support did not line up with the agenda of the Administration.”

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