The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has filed a complaint for disciplinary action against a Veterans Affairs doctor for 15 counts of violations against the Hatch Act, legislation that prevents federal employees from being candidates in partisan elections, accepting political contributions, using their government position to influence an election or engaging in political activity while on duty.
According to the OSC, the doctor ran for one of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats as an independent candidate in 2014 while working for the VA’s Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.
The only VA doctor Federal Times found running in the 2014 Tennessee Senate race was Dr. Choudhury Salekin, whose LinkedIn page says that he is currently a director of sleep disorder and research center and chief of sleep medicine for the VA.
“According to OSC, the doctor promoted his candidacy by distributing business cards featuring the VA’s official seal and touting his campaign video, which was available on his campaign website and on YouTube. The video included a testimonial from a patient he had treated at the VA,” an OSC press release on the filing said. “OSC also alleges that the doctor encouraged several VA colleagues and at least one patient – during a medical consultation – to watch his campaign video. He also solicited campaign contributions both online and in person and invited at least one patient, also during a medical consultation, to a campaign event.”
The OSC complaint asked the Merit Systems Protections Board to find that the doctor did engage in the activities he was charged with and to order disciplinary action, which can range from suspension to debarment from federal employment.
“Federal employees should remember their restrictions under the Hatch Act,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said. “Those who have questions should contact the Office of Special Counsel or their relevant agency officials for advice.”
Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.