The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has issued a letter stating that it “found no evidence that [Director Cordray had] engaged in any of the preliminary activities directed toward candidacy that would violate the Hatch Act.”

According to the OSC letter, which was written by the Deputy Chief of the OSC’s Hatch Act Unit, the OSC conducted an investigation after receiving complaints alleging that Director Cordray had violated the Hatch Act by engaging in preliminary activities in connection with a candidacy for Ohio governor.  The letter indicates that the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain federal employees from running for the nomination or as a candidate for election to a partisan political office, has been interpreted to prohibit “preliminary activities regarding candidacy.”  Such activities would include “any action that can reasonably be construed as evidence that the individual is seeking support for or undertaking an initial ‘campaign’ to secure nomination or election to office.”

The letter gives examples of preliminary activities that would violate the Hatch Act, such as “taking the action necessary under the law of a state to qualify for nomination for election or soliciting or receiving contributions or making expenditures.”

However, according to the letter, “merely discussing with family or close friends the possibility of running; fact-finding to learn what would be required to run; or making inquiries to understand the current political landscape” would not violate the Hatch Act.