U.S.

August 28, 2014

Airmen encouraged to vote, obey AFI on political activities

Capt. Noah Coakley II
56th Fighter Wing Legal Office

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — As the political season approaches, we should all be encouraged to do our civic duty and go out and vote. However, as an Air Force member, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here is a short noninclusive list to help you determine what is or is not permitted when it comes to participating in political activities.

Air Force members may:

· Vote, register to vote, and express personal political opinions on candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Air Force

· Contribute money to a Political Action Committee

· Attend political meetings or rallies as a spectator but not in uniform

· Join a political club and attend its meetings but not in uniform

· Display a political sticker on their private vehicles, or wear a political button when not in uniform and not on duty

Air Force members may not:

· Use contemptuous words against the president or other high-ranking government officials

· Be a candidate for or hold civil office, with few exceptions listed in AFI 51-902, sec 5.2 and 5.3

· Participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions, or make public speeches at such activities

· March or ride in partisan political parades

· Make campaign contributions to any other member of the Armed Forces on active duty

· Solicit funds for a political cause or candidate on a military installation

· Attend a political event as an official representative of the Air Force

· Display a large political sign, banner, or poster on the top or side of a member’s private vehicle

· Sell tickets to promote political dinners and fund-raising events

As a cautionary note, some service members are turning to social media networks and personal blogs to voice their political views. Many members do not know that some posts are in violation of Air Force Instructions and could lead to disciplinary actions. So, before you post your political support and views, here are some easy rules and guidelines on how to keep your social networking in accordance with our profession of arms:

· Active-duty members may express personal nonpartisan views on political issues unofficially. However, while posting, if a service member identifies him or herself as being on active duty in any form, then that member must prominently state that the views expressed are his or her own and not those of the Defense Department.

· Active-duty members should not post, forward, or make direct links to a political party, candidate or campaign because such activities could be considered distributing literature for those entities or individuals.

· Active-duty members can “Friend,” or “Like,” or “Follow” the social media accounts of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group, or cause. However, they should not suggest others to Like, Friend or Follow the political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause.

These are just examples of the political activities that service members may or may not participate in.

There are also restrictions on the political activities of federal civilian employees. Federal employees are prohibited from seeking public office in partisan elections but are free to work, while off duty, on the partisan campaigns of candidates of their choice. For more information on civilian restrictions, see the Hatch Act.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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