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Education Secretary Arne Duncan Urged Employees to Attend Sharpton’s Rally

August 31, 2010

By: Lisa Gartner
Examiner Staff Writer
August 30, 2010

A Department of Education e-mail sent Wednesday encouraged workers to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan, above, at a rally led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. (AP file photo)

President Obama’s top education official urged government employees to attend a rally that the Rev. Al Sharpton organized to counter a larger conservative event on the Mall.

“ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the ‘Reclaim the Dream’ rally and march,” began an internal e-mail sent to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education on Wednesday.

Sharpton created the event after Glenn Beck announced a massive Tea Party “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where King spoke in 1963.

The Washington Examiner learned of the e-mail from a Department of Education employee who felt uncomfortable with Duncan’s request.

Although the e-mail does not violate the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from participating in political campaigns, Education Department workers should feel uneasy, said David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute.

“It sends a signal that activity on behalf of one side of a political debate is expected within a department. It’s highly inappropriate … even in the absence of a direct threat,” Boaz said.

Duncan took the podium alongside Sharpton and 30 other speakers on the football field.

Full Story

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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