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Interactive Ethics Training

Lesson 3: Political Activity

Lesson 3

TDCJ encourages all employees to exercise their full panoply of rights and civic responsibilities within the political process. This includes but is not limited to voting, candidate support, volunteering, and participation in organization's promoting various political ideologies (Democratic, Republican, Green Party, Independent, etc.) However, participation in these activities as a state employee requires attention to specific state laws and agency policy.

PD-23 Employee Political Activity and Participation in Employee Organizations discusses guidelines for running for an elective office. It prohibits the following activities in connection with employee political activity while on Agency premises/property: the placement, distribution, display, or wearing of any form of political campaign materials, including but not limited to, buttons, handbills, posters, shirts, hats, and the use of employee bulletin boards. Note: This does not include bumper stickers affixed on an employee's personal vehicle. The policy also prohibits active campaigning, while on Agency premises, for any candidate in any election (state, local, federal). Campaigning includes meetings, speeches, distribution of flyers, literature promoting one candidate over another. Note: This does NOT include non-partisan, non-issue based voter registration drives. Policy also prohibits collection or solicitation of funds to support a candidate on state time or property and the use of state-owned or state-leased motor vehicle to support the candidacy of a person for any office in the state, or government of the United States. This is state law. See Section 556.004 of the Government Code.

Running for Elective Office: The Advisory Council on Ethics opinioned in their ACE Opinion #11 that TDCJ employees are not precluded from running for certain offices, with some restriction. As stated in ACE Opinion #2, and Article 16, Section 40 of the Texas Constitution allows state employees to serve as members of school districts, cities, towns, or other local government districts provided they RECEIVE NO SALARY for serving.

Employees running for office cannot: 1) use any state equipment to print, copy or create campaign materials; 2) place campaign materials on employee bulletin boards, office doors, walls or entrances to facilities; 3) pass out campaign literature on state property or in Agency buildings, units or offices; 4) urge, coerce, or ask co-workers to vote for them.

Any misuse of state resources, time, or property is a violation of Texas law and TDCJ policy. TDCJ employees should always remember their duties to TDCJ must take priority at all times.

"...they (agency employees) are prohibited from distributing, displaying, or wearing any form of political campaign materials."