As promised we have posted to the SOCO website a recommended letter of warning that you may send to your financial disclosure filers. In addition we have posted a letter that you can provide to the supervisor of financial disclosure filers reminding the supervisors of the important role they play in insuring that their employees do not violate the conflict of interest. The purpose behind these letters is threefold:
We have updated the post-Government employment handouts, both for senior employees and those below senior level, which are posted on the SOCO website. We made two significant changes. The first is the rewording and clarifying the definition of agency components applicable to senior officials who have the one-year representational bar required by 18 U.S.C. 207(c). The second change emphasizes the representational restrictions required by 18 U.S.C. 205 for personnel on terminal leave.
The dust hasn't settled yet, but it has made national news - two uninformed uniformed military members recently attended a political fundraiser for a candidate for the U.S. Congress. Organizers insist that the military members' presence at the forum was not for political purposes, but was to honor their military service. This issue is a "hot button" that continues to arise.
The Secretary of Defense prohibits all military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve forces, from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events (DoD Instruction 1334.1). This prohibition is very broad; the "rules of reason and common sense apply" the military must avoid the direct or indirect association with partisan political activity, appearances mean everything! (DoD Directive 1344.10 and DepSecDef ltr dtd Jan 21 2004)
The Government, and DoD in particular, is not in the business of endorsing candidates or parties. Don't let your uniform become an unwitting pawn or "prop". Service members may not appear at such events while in uniform. The picture posted in the newspaper was one of two uniformed personnel under a banner that read "Republican Lincoln Day dinner". The photo implied that these two service members were attending and endorsing a political fundraiser. Appearances do take on a meaning. If community groups wish to recognize service members, coordinate any recognition event with your public affairs officer and ethics counselor in advance. In general, if such recognition occurs at a political event or a fundraiser, service members may not participate. Advance approval will save you from being the subject of an investigation and having to justify why you made the headlines in ways you didn't expect.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this advisory is to disseminate relevant information and sources of general guidance, policy and law on Government Ethics issues to the Department of Defense ethics community. Advisories are not intended to be and should not be cited as authoritative guidance, DoD policy, or law.