But not by much…
If you’ve noticed, it’s been over two months since I’ve had any online activity. No Tweets, no Facebook updates, no blog posts and no comments on websites, message forums or other blogs. I have consumed, but not participated in thousands of conversations and articles and blog posts.
I was not on an internet fast to clear my head or focus on priorities or any such sort of thing, though that has been a by-product.
I was in a forced exile due to being the subject of an Office of Special Counsel investigation for potentially violating the Hatch Act, which restricts the partisan political actions of federal government employees.
I don’t know the identity of the accuser, but I have developed several theories, and the most likely scenario is that a reader of the Jacksonville Daily News who disagrees with my particular political point of view submitted a complaint to the Office of Special Counsel accusing me of violating the Act after my latest (and final) column in the paper.
As a result, my government computer was confiscated, my access to necessary data systems was revoked and I was working at about 30% of full productivity for over a month. All of my online activities were searched, reviewed and doubtlessly monitored (and will likely continue to be monitored).
Since September 23rd I have been waiting for someone in Washington, D.C. to decide whether I’ve violated federal law and whether I will be able to continue federal service. Currently, the only penalty for violating the Act is termination, though there is an effort to modernize the Hatch Act with additional penalty options.
On December 6th I received a notice that I was found not to be in violation of the Hatch Act.
I have been allowed to continue my government service, but it hasn’t been without cost. I’ve lost hundreds of hours of productivity and I’ve been embarrassed among the Marines and other civilians in my workplace. My family has been under an incredible amount of stress by not knowing if I’ll be able to provide. I have been under an incredible amount of stress. It’s interesting to me that the last two months have almost made me a manic-depressive. Some days the whole ordeal really got me down (especially the month I wasn’t able to perform at full production at work!) and others I almost completely forgot about the whole thing.
This experience has taught me that it’s not worth my career or my family’s success or stability to express my political opinions to the public. I have learned my lesson. No more politics and no more public advocacy for political issues, regardless of how strongly I feel.
So going forward I will not comment on political activity and I will not participate in partisan political activism. I will post only about my fitness experiences and transportation challenges and local news issues.
Basically, I’ll write, tweet and Facebook about everything other than political topics.
This post is the last I’ll mention of the whole thing, so I’ll say just this: What does it say about a political ideology if the only path to victory seen is to keep folks from voting though intimidation and voter registration “cleansings” and silencing the few voices that publicly oppose you? It definitely says something, I think.
So that’s that. I’m back. Things will be different because of the last two months. But I’m back and this will be fun.