Records Request Finds Politics At Play At Federal Aviation Administration

Supervisor John Hickey suggested that if Republicans see office, FAA employees could lose their jobs. “Mr. Hickey was essentially telling them how to vote…”

A supervisor at the Federal Aviation Administration warned employees that a Republican victory could cost them their jobs, a potential violation federal law, according to emails obtained by the small government watchdog group Cause of Action.

FAA employees present at a May 22 meeting gave accounts of one supervisor “essentially telling [employees] how to vote if they wanted to keep their job,” according to the emails, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

One supervisor, John Hickey—a Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety—warned that while Republicans in Washington wished to cut the FAA budget, Democrats would keep it flat.

Hickey suggested that the “FAA could be looking at as much as a 15% cut in the budget and we may be looking at furloughs,” said one employee at the meeting. “In short if the Republicans win office our jobs may be effected [sic].”

The meeting in question was held at the Seattle Flight Standards Division Office, and led by supervisors Hickey and Ray Towles, Deputy Director of Flight Standards Field Operations. In a letter, Cause of Action requested the agency’s Inspector General launch an investigation into Hickey and Towles for a potential violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from playing partisan politics.

“These career employees were led to believe their jobs were at risk if their political support did not line up with the agenda of the Administration,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action in a statement. “The Hatch Act is designed to prevent such politicization and we are demanding that IG Scovel investigate any potential violations of federal law and make appropriate referrals to the Justice Department.”

Said one FAA employee in his account of the meeting, “Mr. Hickey probably shouldn’t have mentioned politics.”

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