FAA officials accused of pressuring staff to vote for Obama

A government accountability group is accusing supervisors at the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) of urging the agency’s employees to vote for President
Obama and other Democrats in November.

The Washington, D.C.-based Cause of Action, which
identifies itself as nonpartisan, said Wednesday that FAA officials at a
Seattle office told employees that the agency’s funding would be more secure
if Obama defeats Mitt Romney to win a second term.

The allegation, if true, would be a violation of the Hatch Act, a federal law
that prohibits government agencies from getting involved in partisan

{mosads}Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein said in a
letter to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel that he
should investigate the allegations of political pressure being applied to FAA

“We write respectfully to request that the Office of
Inspector General (OIG) initiate an investigation into Deputy Associate
Administrator for Aviation Safety John Hickey and Deputy Director of Flight
Standards Field Operations Ray Towles,” Epstein wrote. “We have been informed
that during mandatory meetings of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
employees, Mr. Hickey and Mr. Towles encouraged employees to vote for
Democratic politicians in upcoming elections, explaining their jobs may very
well depend on a Democratic victory.”

Epstein said the alleged incident took place in May at the FAA’s
Seattle Flight Standards Division Office. He said the Cause for Action group
was notified about the appeals to FAA workers to vote Democratic by employees
at a meeting Hickey and Towles conducted.

“At least two Seattle FSDO employees present for Mr. Hickey
and Mr. Towles’ comments felt they were so inappropriate as to necessitate
reporting to their supervisor, who in turn reported their allegations as
possible Hatch Act violations to an attorney and deputy regional counsel in the
FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region Office of the Regional Counsel,” Epstein wrote.

“Additionally, a source has informed Cause of Action that
the office of special counsel is conducting an investigation into Mr. Hickey
and Mr. Towles and their comments to the Seattle FSDO,” he continued.

A spokesperson for the FAA told The Hill that the agency “takes Hatch Act violation allegations very seriously and will cooperate fully with any review of the allegations.”

The full Cause of Action letter can be read here.

— This story was updated at 5:53 p.m. with comment from the FAA.


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