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As Shutdown Grinds On, Internal FAA E-Mail Warns Workers About ‘Political Activity’

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) news conference with aviation workers including Air Traffic Controller Mamie Ambrose at BWI Airport, Baltimore, on Jan. 14.


(Image: Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned its employees regarding “restrictions on partisan political activity,” an internal FAA email obtained by TYT reveals.

“Employees are responsible for acquainting themselves with restrictions on partisan political activity and for not engaging in prohibited actions,” the email states. “It is important to ensure that remarks made in any forum regardless if made in connection with work or by a person identified as an FAA employee, comport with governing rules and regulations.”

The email was sent on January 9 by an FAA administrator, according to an FAA contractor who requested anonymity in order to avoid retribution. The subject line reads, “Internal Management Guidance Re: Expression of Views Reminder.”

At the time of this writing, the government shutdown is on its fourth week, representing the longest in U.S. history. President Trump has threatened to maintain the shutdown for “months or even years” if he does not obtain $5.6 billion for his southern border wall. He has also asserted that federal workers actually like the shutdown, despite its having left some 800,000 without pay.

In a separate email, another FAA administrator references the guidelines, saying, “Please be mindful of this guidance to avoid any unnecessary scrutiny.” This was a veiled threat to employees that they would be scrutinized for speaking out, TYT’s source said.

“These people are not allowed to speak out. They are expected to work without pay, though,” the source said.

In response to the previous FAA email, one disgruntled FAA employee replied sarcastically, “Isn’t there also guidance about getting paid to work and forcing folks to work without pay being illegal?” The response took the form of a reply-all email, also obtained by TYT, and went out to thousands of FAA employees, the source said.

Excerpt from internal FAA email obtained by TYT and redacted by TYT's source.

(Image: Photo provided to TYT.)

The FAA did not respond to TYT’s request for comment.

“Not paying Air Traffic Controllers is akin to not paying ER doctors,” the source said. “These people are smart, have incredibly hard training and literally hold lives in their hands. They are continuing to show up without pay because they truly care about the safety of people within their care.”

Labor unions representing FAA workers have raised concerns about the effect of the shutdown on air traffic safety.

“People get on planes and think the pilot is in control. The pilot is not in control. They’re just hitting buttons. Controllers are keeping planes from hitting each other or the ground,” the source explained.

Over 24,000 FAA employees are working during the shutdown without pay.

On Tuesday, a federal judge declined to make the government pay federal employees currently being forced to work without compensation due to the shutdown.

Ken Klippenstein is a senior investigative reporter for TYT. He can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or via email: [email protected].

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