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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2008

Campaign conundrum: Political participation by Air Force members

By Capt. Heidi White 1st Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate

With campaign season upon us, active-duty Air Force and Reserve members need to be mindful of the guidelines and restrictions on political participation. 

This is an exciting time, and members naturally want to be involved in choosing new political leaders and our new commander-in-chief. However, there are still many ways for members to express themselves politically without going against the regulation. 

Air Force Instruction 51-902 contains provisions prohibiting actions that associate a member of the Air Force with partisan political activities, activities that are tied to specific political parties or candidates. 

Here are some examples of approved and disapproved political activities for active-duty members:

A member on active duty MAY:
· Register to vote, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces
· Display political stickers on a private vehicle or wear a political button when not in uniform and not on duty 
· Attend political rallies or political club meetings while not in uniform
· Make monetary contributions to a political organization or political committee
· Encourage others to take political interest as long as not advocating for specific parties or candidates

Members on activen duty, including active-duty reservists, MAY NOT:
· Make monetary contributions to a partisan political candidate
· Participate in any radio, television, or other program advocating a party or a candidate · Solicit or fundraise for a partisan political cause or candidate
· Conduct political opinion surveys or distribute partisan political literature
· March or ride in partisan political parades
· Display large political signs, banners or posters on the top or side of a private vehicle 
· Attend political rallies while in uniform
· Post political party signs or other partisan paraphernalia in a government work center
In general use common sense and avoid actions that associate, or even create the appearance of associating the Air Force with a partisan cause or candidate. If there is any uncertainty about participating in a political activity, contact the legal office first, then act-not the other way around! 

For more information, call the legal office at 764-3277 or DSN 574-3277.