WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Officials have launched an investigation into remarks by senior Federal Aviation Administration managers who allegedly told subordinates that Republican victories in November's election could lead to budget cuts and furloughs for FAA employees, a source with knowledge of the probe said on Monday.
A watchdog group known as Cause of Action called last week for an investigation of the remarks, saying they could violate the federal Hatch Act, which prevents executive branch civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity.
The source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said a federal investigation is being led by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which monitors potential Hatch Act violations.
Washington-based Cause of Action is a government accountability group led by Dan Epstein, a former congressional aide who has led investigations involving the community advocacy group ACORN, the National Labor Relations Board and the Service Employees International Union.
According to Cause of Action, FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety John Hickey and FAA Deputy Director of Flight Standards Field Operations Raymond Towles told subordinates at a May 23 meeting that their jobs could be affected by a Republican victory.
The group also quoted the officials as saying that Democratic victories would not affect agency jobs.
The November 6 election will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the White House, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
"The FAA takes Hatch Act violation allegations very seriously and will cooperate fully with any review of the allegations," an agency spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Walsh)
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