Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested at a Fox News forum hosted by Mike Huckabee in South Carolina on Saturday that it would be a good idea to fire federal employees for being too liberal. Federal law, on the other hand, says Gingrich’s plan would be illegal.
“I think an intelligent conservative wants the right federal employees delivering the right services in a highly efficient way and then wants to get rid of those folks who are in fact wasteful, or those folks who are ideologically so far to the left, or those people who want to frankly dictate to the rest of us,” Gingrich said in response to a question from a federal employee at the forum (emphasis ours).
This sounds like it would come uncomfortably close to being in conflict with a Federal law making it illegal to take any personnel action against an employee “based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicapping condition, marital status, or political affiliation.” Accusations that political affiliation was taken into account would be investigated by the Office of Special Counsel (except in certain government agencies).
That said, a putative Gingrich administration would be following in the footsteps of George W. Bush’s. A report by the Justice Department’s internal investigators found that Bush administration officials discriminated against liberal employees in the Civil Rights Division and hired lawyers based on their conservative ideology.