Is the U.S. Postal Service Breaking the Law?
I just heard that a Post Office on Long Island, New York is spending taxpayer dollars to purchase "Support the Troops" car magnets, and is giving the magnets to customers for free. This sounds very odd to me. If the report is true, there is a good chance that U.S. Postal Service purchasing and giving away of the magnets violates federal law.
While "Support the Troops" may sound neutral, most people recognize it as a code phrase for "support President Bush's Iraq War strategy." Those who have disagreed with Bush's Iraq strategy, and who want to save the troops by getting them out of a bloody civil war in which they are targets, have been attacked with vitriolic hate speech and have been called unpatriotic and even traitors, by Bush Administration officials and their supporters.
Under the Hatch Act, it is illegal for federal employees to engage in certain political activities on government property, especially ones where the employees are using taxpayer dollars to favor one candidate, party or political message over another. Recently, Democratic leaders in Congress uncovered a giant series of Hatch Act violations by the Bush White House, wherein officials from the White House Office of Political Affairs (headed by Karl Rove) came to numerous federal agencies (such as the General Services Administration, run by Lurita Doan, which is in charge of procuring and maintaining federal buildings) to give Powerpoint presentations on how to help out Republican candidates in elections. These White House officials used Republican National Committee email accounts to hide their communications regarding their illegal activities.
The First Amendment is an important part of our Bill of Rights, setting us apart from many other countries. The First Amendment allows people to buy their own car magnets that say "Support the Troops," "Don't Support the Troops," and almost anything else, and to display them publicly. But, as the Hatch Act recognizes, the federal government may not take our tax money and use it to spread political messages that favor only one side. Today's federally funded "Support the Troops" magnet could be tomorrow's federally funded "I Love Abortion" or "Bushie You're Doing a Heckuva Job" or "The Bible Says the Earth is Only 6,000 Years Old and By the Way Stem Cell Research is Evil" magnet.
I'd like to hear from anyone else as to whether any other Post Offices are using your tax money to buy political stickers or car magnets and then giving them away. I'm going to pursue this.