Group says FAA told workers how to vote

Seattle bosses allegedly said backing GOP may cut jobs; probe urged

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SEATTLE — A transparency group is urging an investigation into Federal Aviation Administration managers who allegedly urged workers in Seattle to vote Democrat in the upcoming elections.

The Washington, D.C.-based group Cause of Action sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general claiming that in May at a mandatory staff meeting in Seattle, two senior FAA managers told employees that if Republicans win the presidential and congressional elections, the agency would face budget cuts. They allegedly said that if Democrats win, their budget would remain largely unchanged.

One of the managers is alleged to have said that "Republican politicians wished to cut the budget of the FAA, while Democratic politicians intended to keep the FAA budget at the same or similar levels as in recent years. Any cuts in the FAA budget would lead to furloughs, job losses and pay reductions among FAA employees," the Cause of Action complaint claimed.

Some of the employees at the meeting complained that the statements felt like a threat.

The FAA issued a statement saying that it's taking the allegations "very seriously and will cooperate fully with any review."

Cause of Action argues that the managers violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain federal employees from engaging in partisan politics in the workplace.

"These career employees were led to believe their jobs were at risk if their political support did not line up with the agenda of the administration," said Daniel Epstein, executive director of the group.

Cause of Action describes itself as an "organization that uses public-advocacy and legal-reform strategies to ensure greater transparency in government, and to protect taxpayer interests and economic freedom."