Statutes, policies detail limits of political activity

Election season is hitting high gear, and NAU employees should make themselves aware of the state statutes and university and Arizona Board of Regents policies that prohibit the use of university resources and limit this type of activity for NAU faculty and staff in their employment capacity.

Nothing in the policies or statutes is intended to discourage employees in their private capacity from becoming engaged in the political process.

Employees are prohibited from stating or implying that they are speaking on behalf of the university on a political or electoral issue. Additionally, statutes prohibit using university property, equipment, supplies or other resources—including phones, mail service, photocopiers, e-mail, stationery or other items paid for by the university—for political or electoral advocacy.

The statutes generally do not apply to students, and employees are free to participate on their own time in any lawful political activities provided they do not purport to speak or act in the name of the university. For example, employees cannot send a letter to the editor with their university affiliation attached or use university time or resources to create the letter.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has issued guidelines for university personnel. These guidelines more completely speak to the examples listed below. 

Examples of activities that university employees may engage on their own time include:

  • signing candidate nomination, recall, initiative and referendum petitions
  • making contributions to candidates, political parties or campaign committees
  • soliciting contributions on behalf of candidates
  • attending and participating in political meetings

Examples of political activities that are limited or prohibited:

  • postings, pamphlets, signs, stickers in university buildings or wearing of apparel or buttons related to campaigns or other material designed to influence outcome of elections, measures
  • use of buildings and facilities
  • use of one’s authority or position
  • use of university mail boxes, e-mail, telephones
  • teaching and advocacy with students
  • petition circulation, solicitation of contributions, announcements of candidacy

Additionally, NAU and the Arizona Board of Regents have policies on lobbying on behalf of the university. University employees are prohibited from representing the university in lobbying efforts unless they have direct authorization from the president and are registered as a lobbyist.

If you are in doubt about appropriate activity, contact your supervisor or Human Resources.