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Political Activities for Public Employees

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A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding regulations of political activities for public employees. While this page includes FAQs, they are not legal advice. For exact language and legal requirements, view Portland City Code and City Charter.


Can I express my personal political views at work?

Yes. City employees may express personal political views, such as during a personal conversation with a coworker, even while on the job during working hours, as long as it does not interfere with the job and they are not speaking in their "official capacity." See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.

Can I wear political buttons at work?

Yes. On or off the job, public employees may wear buttons that are intended and viewed as personal expressions of their political views. However, since residents might identify a personal expression as an official one, discretion is strongly advised. Special restrictions may apply to employees who wear City uniforms while on the job. Employees should consult with their supervisor and bureau or office-specific policies. See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.

Can I participate in an elected official's campaign activity or campaign for or against a ballot measure on my own time outside of working hours?

Yes. City employees may participate in candidate or other political campaigns while on their own time (days off, lunch hours, breaks) as long as such activity is voluntary, and provided they are not acting in their "official capacity." The Elections Office strongly encourages employees to document any such dates and times on work calendars as personal time, after approval from a supervisor.

Salaried employees' work time is not as easily measured as that of hourly workers. Personal note-keeping by salaried employees is suggested, such as documenting the dates and times spent on political activity in a personal calendar. Recording when the employee is on or off duty can determine whether they are acting in their "official capacity." Also, during public appearances, employees should specifically announce to the audience in what capacity they are speaking (personal vs. official).

See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.

Can I distribute campaign flyers or e-mails to coworkers?

No. Distributing campaign literature is prohibited during working hours. City employees may not use City resources such as interoffice mail, telephone, fax machines, internet, or copying machines in support or in opposition to a candidate, petition signature collection, or ballot measure. See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rules 4.06, 4.08 & 4.09.

Can I display campaign signs or bumper stickers in my work space?

No. City employees may not display on City property posters, bumper stickers, announcements, or similar campaign materials promoting or opposing a candidate or ballot measure. See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.

Can I solicit campaign contributions or petition signature sheets during working hours?

No. Campaigning or soliciting campaign funds or campaign assistance is prohibited during working hours. See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.

What should I do if I receive campaign related phone calls or e-mails at work?

Unsolicited incoming calls and e-mails cannot be controlled, but employees should keep in mind the restrictions placed on political activities when responding. A public employee may address election-related issues while on the job, in a factual and impartial manner, if such activity is legitimately within the scope of the employee's normal duties (such as re-directing campaign scheduling inquiries to an appropriate point of contact).

A public employee may handle incoming calls about an elected official's availability for political events, as the elected official's scheduler must be aware of the elected official's schedule. However, elected officials' staff should not make outgoing calls while on the job during working hours to solicit political scheduling opportunities, organize campaign events, assist with campaign related compliance activity, or initiate any other political activity on behalf of the official. 

See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rules 4.06, 4.08 & 4.09.

What restrictions are placed on elected officials engaging in political activities?

Elected officials are not considered "public employees" for purposes of ORS 260.432. Elected officials may engage in political activity at any time, as long as they comply with City Charter Section 2-610 (time devoted to City business). Caution must be taken by elected officials to not involve public employees' work time in any activities that could be construed to be supporting or aiding an advocacy campaign effort. See ORS 260.432 and City Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06.


Have additional questions? Please contact the City Elections Office at elections@portlandoregon.gov or 503-865-6503.