Political Activities of Employees

What regulations apply to University employees’ engagement in political activities?

Policy 05.00.04 – Political Activities and Section 300.5.1 of the UNC Policy Manual prohibit activities of university employees related to governmental and political processes that are incompatible with the general responsibilities of public employment. More detailed information is provided in the memorandum, “Reminders Regarding University and Political Activities,” published annually by the UNC System.

What political activities are prohibited for University employees?

N.C. General Statute, § 126-13 defines appropriate political activity of State employees and provides that no State employee may take any active part in managing a campaign or engage in political activity within any period of time during which s/he is expected to perform services for the State. It also prohibits the use of the authority of a State employee’s position, or the use of State property to secure support for or to oppose any person or issue in any election. Under § 126-14, it is unlawful for a State employee to coerce a State employee to support or contribute to a political candidate or party. Consistent with these requirements, no University of North Carolina equipment, or services (e.g., vehicles and other equipment, campus mail, computers and e-mail, postage, photocopying and fax, etc.) may be used for political campaign activities. This applies equally to University faculty, staff, and students, and to individuals external to the University.

What political activities are permitted for University employees?

Each member of the University community has the right to freely express his/her views on any subject, including advocacy for/against candidates for public office. This is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the N.C. Constitution, Sec. 14, Freedom of Speech and Press. However, in exercising these rights, the resources of the University cannot be used. Engagement in political campaign activities by University employees should be conducted independent of their University employment and at times when such activity does not interfere with employment obligations to the University.

What must an EHRA employee do prior to becoming a candidate for or holding public office?

Due to potential conflicts of interest or time, all EHRA employees (Faculty and EHRA Non-Faculty) becoming candidates for or holding public offices must make certain disclosures and may be required to submit a Petition Regarding Political Activity pursuant to the process described in Section 5 of Policy 05.00.04 and in  Sections 300.5.1 and 300.5.2 of the UNC Policy Manual.

Are University employees’ able to lobby on behalf of the University?

The University is not permitted to engage in substantial quantities of lobbying for the purposes of influencing legislation.  Some lobbying is permitted, and the University does engage with public officials on legislation affecting the University.  However, NC State must always remain aware of the amount of lobbying it is conducting so as not to exceed limits set by the IRS.

As a result, no University center, institute, college, department, unit, or employee may engage in lobbying activities without first contacting the University’s Office of External Affairs for State and local matters or the Office of Federal Relations for federal matters.  This includes if you are called to testify, answer questions, or provide information to a State Board, Commission, the General Assembly or Congress.