No GoFundMe Campaigns For Shutdown Employees, Says Federal Ethics Office

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The Office of Government Ethics just released guidelines for federal employees during government shutdowns, about three weeks after the government reopened.

During the five-week partial shutdown, thousands of federal employees took to GoFundMe or other online platforms to fundraise for groceries, day care costs or mortgage payments. According to the memo, that’s a no-no.

GoFundMe opens up to anyone,” says Jeff Ruch with the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “You could have a government contract employee, coworker, a subordinate give a contribution. From an ethics point of view it’s inherently troublesome, but on the other hand it’s not clear how the agency would police that.” 

The memo also advises that employees considering work during a shutdown consult a government ethics official about the position.

Federal workers generally aren’t supposed to accept work in the same scope as their regular employment. That can make it difficult for workers to find meaningful paid work during a furlough. 

“If you’re a specialist you’re reduced to working at Starbucks or dog walking, or something,” says Ruch. “Otherwise, what would you do?” 

The guidelines follow the longest government shutdown in history, which furloughed about 800,000 workers. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

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This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho,  KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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