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Title 45 Part 2556 → Subpart H

Title 45 → Subtitle B → Chapter XXV → Part 2556 → Subpart H

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 45 Part 2556 → Subpart H

e-CFR data is current as of August 22, 2019

Title 45Subtitle BChapter XXVPart 2556 → Subpart H


Title 45: Public Welfare
PART 2556—VOLUNTEERS IN SERVICE TO AMERICA


Subpart H—Restrictions and Prohibitions on Political Activities and Lobbying


Contents
§2556.700   Who is covered by this subpart?
§2556.705   What is prohibited political activity?
§2556.710   What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from engaging in?
§2556.715   What political activities may a VISTA participate in?
§2556.720   May VISTAs participate in political organizations?
§2556.725   May VISTAs participate in political campaigns?
§2556.730   May VISTAs participate in elections?
§2556.735   May a VISTA be a candidate for public office?
§2556.740   May VISTAs participate in political fundraising activities?
§2556.745   Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging the political participation of certain individuals?
§2556.750   What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject to who campaign for a spouse or family member?
§2556.755   May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations?
§2556.760   May a sponsor and subrecipient approve the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting?
§2556.765   What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities?
§2556.770   What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients regarding political activities?
§2556.775   What prohibitions and restrictions on political activity apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?
§2556.780   What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?

Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4954(a), 5043, and 5055(b).

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§2556.700   Who is covered by this subpart?

(a) All VISTAs, including leaders and summer associates, are subject to this subpart.

(b) All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with VISTA grant assistance are subject to this subpart.

(c) All VISTA sponsors and subrecipients are subject to this subpart.

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§2556.705   What is prohibited political activity?

For purposes of the regulations in this subpart, “prohibited political activity” means an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

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§2556.710   What political activities are VISTAs prohibited from engaging in?

(a) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.

(b) A VISTA may not use his or her official authority or influence to coerce any individual to participate in political activity.

(c) A VISTA may not use his or her official VISTA program title while participating in prohibited political activity.

(d) A VISTA may not participate in prohibited political activities in the following circumstances:

(1) While he or she is on duty;

(2) While he or she is wearing an article of clothing, logo, insignia, or other similar item that identifies CNCS, the VISTA program, or one of CNCS's other national service programs;

(3) While he or she is in any room or building occupied in the discharge of VISTA duties by an individual employed by the sponsor; and

(4) While using a vehicle owned or leased by a sponsor or subrecipient, or while using a privately-owned vehicle in the discharge of VISTA duties.

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§2556.715   What political activities may a VISTA participate in?

(a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, a VISTA may:

(1) Express his or her opinion privately and publicly on political subjects;

(2) Be politically active in connection with a question which is not specifically identified with a political party, such as a constitutional amendment, referendum, approval of a municipal ordinance, or any other question or issue of similar character;

(3) Participate in the nonpartisan activities of a civic, community, social, labor, or professional organization, or of a similar organization; and

(4) Participate fully in public affairs, except as prohibited by other Federal law, in a manner which does not compromise his or her efficiency or integrity as a VISTA, or compromise the neutrality, efficiency, or integrity of CNCS or the VISTA program.

(b) A VISTA may participate in political activities set forth in paragraph (a) of this section as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interfere with his or her provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

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§2556.720   May VISTAs participate in political organizations?

(a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may:

(1) Be a member of a political party or other political group and participate in its activities;

(2) Serve as an officer of a political party or other political group, a member of a national, State, or local committee of a political party, an officer or member of a committee of a political group, or be a candidate for any of these positions;

(3) Attend and participate fully in the business of nominating caucuses of political parties;

(4) Organize or reorganize a political party organization or political group;

(5) Participate in a political convention, rally, or other political gathering; and

(6) Serve as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party convention.

(b) A VISTA may participate in a political organization as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

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§2556.725   May VISTAs participate in political campaigns?

(a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may:

(1) Display pictures, signs, stickers, badges, or buttons associated with political parties, candidates for partisan political office, or partisan political groups, as long as these items are displayed in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710;

(2) Initiate or circulate a nominating petition for a candidate for partisan political office;

(3) Canvass for votes in support of or in opposition to a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office;

(4) Endorse or oppose a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office in a political advertisement, broadcast, campaign literature, or similar material; and

(5) Address a convention caucus, rally, or similar gathering of a political party or political group in support of or in opposition to a partisan political candidate or a candidate for political party office.

(b) A VISTA may participate in a political campaign as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

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§2556.730   May VISTAs participate in elections?

(a) Provided that paragraph (b) of this section is fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may:

(1) Register and vote in any election;

(2) Act as recorder, watcher, challenger, or similar officer at polling places;

(3) Serve as an election judge or clerk, or in a similar position; and

(4) Drive voters to polling places for a partisan political candidate, partisan political group, or political party.

(5) Participate in voter registration activities.

(b) A VISTA may participate in elections as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

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§2556.735   May a VISTA be a candidate for public office?

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no VISTA may run for the nomination to, or as a candidate for election to, partisan political office.

(b) In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may participate in elections as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interference with the provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

(c) Provided that paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may:

(1) Run as an independent candidate in a partisan election in designated U.S. municipalities and political subdivisions as set forth at 5 CFR part 733; and

(2) Run as a candidate in a non-partisan election.

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§2556.740   May VISTAs participate in political fundraising activities?

(a) Provided that paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section are fully adhered to, and in accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, a VISTA may:

(1) Make a political contribution to a political party, political group, campaign committee of a candidate for public office in a partisan election;

(2) Attend a political fundraiser; and

(3) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated volunteer services for a political campaign from any individual.

(b) A VISTA may participate in fundraising activities as long as such participation:

(1) Does not interfere with the performance of, or availability to perform, his or her assigned VISTA project duties;

(2) Does not interfere with the provision of service in the VISTA program;

(3) Is not conducted in a manner involving the use of VISTA assistance, resources or funds;

(4) Would not result in the identification of the VISTA as being a participant in or otherwise associated with the VISTA program;

(5) Is not conducted during scheduled VISTA service hours; and

(6) Does not interfere with the full-time commitment to remain available for VISTA service without regard to regular working hours, at all times during periods of service, except for authorized periods of leave.

(c) A VISTA may not knowingly:

(1) Personally solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution from another individual;

(2) Personally solicit political contributions in a speech or keynote address given at a fundraiser;

(3) Allow his or her perceived or actual affiliation with the VISTA program, or his or her official title as a VISTA, to be used in connection with fundraising activities; or

(4) Solicit, accept, or receive uncompensated individual volunteer services from a subordinate, (e.g., a leader may not solicit, accept or receive a political contribution from a VISTA).

(d) Except for VISTAs who reside in municipalities or political subdivisions designated under 5 CFR part 733, no VISTA may accept or receive a political contribution on behalf of an individual who is a candidate for local partisan political office and who represents a political party.

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§2556.745   Are VISTAs prohibited from soliciting or discouraging the political participation of certain individuals?

(a) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of any individual who has an application for any compensation, grant, contract, ruling, license, permit, or certificate pending before CNCS or the VISTA program.

(b) A VISTA may not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation of any political activity of any individual who is the subject of, or a participant in, an ongoing audit, investigation, or enforcement action being carried out by or through CNCS or the VISTA program.

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§2556.750   What restrictions and prohibitions are VISTAs subject to who campaign for a spouse or family member?

A VISTA who is the spouse or family member of either a candidate for partisan political office, candidate for political party office, or candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election, is subject to the same restrictions and prohibitions as other VISTAs, as set forth in §2556.725.

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§2556.755   May VISTAs participate in lawful demonstrations?

In accordance with the prohibitions set forth in §2556.710, VISTAs may participate in lawful demonstrations, political rallies, and other political meetings, so long as such participation is in conformance with all of the following:

(a) Occurs only while on authorized leave or while otherwise off duty;

(b) Does not include attempting to represent, or representing the views of VISTAs or the VISTA program on any public issue;

(c) Could not be reasonably understood by the community as being identified with the VISTA program, the project, or other elements of VISTA service; and

(d) Does not interfere with the discharge of VISTA duties.

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§2556.760   May a sponsor and subrecipient approve the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting?

(a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall approve a VISTA to be involved in planning, initiating, participating in, or otherwise aiding or assisting in any demonstration or other political meeting.

(b) If a VISTA sponsor or subrecipient which, subsequent to the receipt of any CNCS financial assistance, including the assignment of VISTAs, approves the participation of a VISTA in a demonstration or other political meeting, shall be subject to procedures related to the suspension or termination of such assistance, as provided in subpart B of this part, §§2556.135 through 2556.140.

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§2556.765   What disciplinary actions are VISTAs subject to for violating restrictions or prohibitions on political activities?

Violations by a VISTA of any of the prohibitions or restrictions set forth in this subpart may warrant termination for cause, in accordance with proceedings set forth at §§2556.420, 2556.425, and 2556.430.

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§2556.770   What are the requirements of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients regarding political activities?

(a) All sponsors and subrecipients are required to:

(1) Understand the restrictions and prohibitions on the political activities of VISTAs, as set forth in this subpart;

(2) Provide training to VISTAs on all applicable restrictions and prohibitions on political activities, as set forth in this subpart, and use training materials that are consistent with these restrictions and prohibitions;

(3) Monitor on a continuing basis the activity of VISTAs for compliance with this subpart; and

(4) Report all violations, or questionable situations, immediately to the appropriate CNCS State Office.

(b) Failure of a sponsor to comply with the requirements of this subpart, or a violation of the requirements contained in this subpart by the sponsor or subrecipient, sponsor or subrecipient's covered employees, agents, or VISTAs, may be deemed to be a material failure to comply with terms or conditions of the VISTA program. In such a case, the sponsor shall be subject to procedures related to the denial or reduction, or suspension or termination, of such assistance, as provided in §§2556.125, 2556.130, and 2556.140.

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§2556.775   What prohibitions and restrictions on political activity apply to employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?

All employees of VISTA sponsors and subrecipients, whose salaries or other compensation are paid, in whole or in part, with VISTA funds are subject to all applicable prohibitions and restrictions described in this subpart in the following circumstances:

(a) Whenever they are engaged in an activity that is supported by CNCS or VISTA funds or assistance; and

(b) Whenever they identify themselves as acting in their capacity as an official of a VISTA project that receives CNCS or VISTA funds or assistance, or could reasonably be perceived by others as acting in such a capacity.

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§2556.780   What prohibitions on lobbying activities apply to VISTA sponsors and subrecipients?

(a) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall assign a VISTA to perform service or engage in activities related to influencing the passage or defeat of legislation or proposals by initiative petition.

(b) No VISTA sponsor or subrecipient shall use any CNCS financial assistance, such as VISTA funds or the services of a VISTA, for any activity related to influencing the passage or defeat of legislation or proposals by initiative petition.

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