What is the Hatch Act? How Dr Oz's campaign 'violates' the 1939 law

Eve Edwards March 24, 2022
What is the Hatch Act? How Dr Oz's campaign 'violates' the 1939 law
Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images


President Joe Biden has formally requested Dr Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker, both running for the US Senate, formally resign from their posts on the President’s Council On Sports, Fitness & Nutrition (PCSFN), CNN reports.

Both men were appointed to the PCSFN by former president Donald Trump but the Biden administration has made a formal request for their resignation, quoting the Hatch Act of 1939.

With the 80-year-old law coming into the spotlight, we take a deep dive into what the Hatch Act means for Dr Oz and Herschel Walker regarding their political campaigns and positions on the board.

Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images

What is the Hatch Act of 1939?

The Hatch Act is a federal law passed in 1939 that aims to ensure governmental organisations remain non-partisan. The US Office Of Special Counsel states: “The law limits certain political activities of federal employees as well as some state, DC and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs.”

The definition continues:

“The law’s purposes are to ensure federal programs are administered in a non-partisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace and to ensure federal employees are advanced based on merit and not political affiliation.”

The law was passed in 1939 in response to the congressional elections of 1938, in which some Democrats were accused of exploiting the Works Progress Administration to their political benefit. The law was named after New Mexico senator Carl Hatch.

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How Dr Oz and Walker’s campaign might violate the Act

Dr Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker serve on the PCSFN but, with both men now confirmed Republican senate candidates, the Biden administration claims their position on the board violates the Hatch Act’s law that federal employees “may not be candidates in partisan elections”.

Oz is in the race for the position of senator of Pennsylvania, while Walker is running as a candidate in Georgia.

Gautam Raghavan, an assistant to President Biden, made the request on 23 March 2022.

Raghavan wrote: “On behalf of President Biden, I am writing to request your resignation as a member of the President’s Council On Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. Please submit your resignation to me by the close of business today. Should we not receive your resignation, your position with the council will be terminated, effective 6pm tonight.”

Florida attorney and political commentator Ron Filipkowski, who tweeted the letter, labelled the move as Dr Oz being “fired” from the PCSFN:

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Dr Oz responds to Biden request

In light of the Biden administration’s request for his resignation, Dr Oz told CNN: “President Trump appointed me to two terms on the President’s Council On Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. The White House just emailed me demanding my resignation by the end of the day.

“Clearly, Joe Biden can’t be around anyone who doesn’t completely fall in line with his fear-mongering, authoritarian, one-size-fits-all covid handling. I am proud of my service and will not resign.”

Dr Oz and Herschel Walker were appointed by former president Donald Trump to the PCSFN in 2018. In December 2020, towards the end of his presidency, Trump reappointed both men on two-year terms.

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Eve Edwards is a staff writer for The Focus who has been with GRV Media since April 2019. Having gained a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Bristol, Eve joined GRV starting out as a writer for Reality Titbit before making her way over to HITC. With a passion for music, TV, and cultural news, Eve eventually found a home at The Focus. Eve spent 2021-2022 freelancing for GRV Media while she completed a Masters in Music Performance, and brings her wide array of interests to the company in her written work. In Eve's spare time you'll find her working her way through the day's Wordle, Heardle, and Quordle, or struggling to complete The Guardian's cryptic crossword.