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Political Do's and Don'ts

  • Published
  • By Maj. James Johnson
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing judge advocate

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- As the elections approach it is important to remember that as a military member you are encouraged and expected to be responsible and politically conscious citizens. However, your active participation in political activities is not without limitations. Federal law and Air Force Instruction 51-902 prohibit or limit some political activities in order to maintain good order and discipline and to avoid the appearance of improper DoD endorsements in political affairs. 


Air Force members MAY:


  • Vote or generally encourage others to vote

  • Express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces

  • Make monetary contributions to a political organization or political committee favoring a particular candidate or group of candidates

  • Attend political meetings or rallies as a spectator when not in uniform

  • Join a political club and attend its meetings when not in uniform

  • Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing a member's personal views concerning public issues provided those views do not attempt to promote a partisan political cause

  • Display a small political sticker on your vehicle or wear a political button when not in uniform and not on duty

    Social media guidelines:

  • Express personal views on public issues or political candidates (disclaimer may be required)

  • "Friend," "like" or "follow" articles or social media pages related to group, candidate or political issue (disclaimer may be required)


    Air Force members MAY NOT: 
  • Use official authority or influence to interfere with an election or affect its outcome

  • Solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue

  • Participate in partisan political fundraising activities or solicit political contributions

  • Run for or hold elected civil office except as narrowly allowed by AFI 51-902

  • Participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions, or make public speeches in the course of such activity

  • Write or publish partisan political articles signed or authorized by the member for soliciting votes for or against a partisan political party or candidate

  • Serve as an officer for or sponsor of a partisan political club

  • Speak to a partisan political gathering to promote a partisan political party or candidate

  • Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate

  • Distribute partisan political literature

  • March or ride in a partisan political parade

  • Participate in any organized effort to transport voters to the polls, if it is organized by or associated with a partisan political party or candidate

  • Attend, as an official representative of the Armed Forces, partisan political events, even without actively participating

  • Engage in the public or organized recruitment of others to become partisan candidates for nomination or election to a civil office

  • Display a large political sign, banner, or poster on the top or side of a member's vehicle

  • Use contemptuous words concerning the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth or possession in which member is on duty or present

    Social media guidelines:

  • Engage in any of the above social media activities in the work place, on duty or using government resources

  • Fundraise or solicit support for a partisan cause including “liking”, “retweeting”, “sharing” or forwarding invites to these online sources (much like distributing campaign material)


For additional information, or if you are in ANY doubt concerning the propriety of some political activity, contact your local legal office for help.