Okay, here’s the deal.

You probably shouldn’t work on a political campaign while you are at your job — unless, of course, working on a political campaign actually is your job.

Regardless of whether you are an accountant or a short order cook or an airplane mechanic or a kindergarten teacher, whoever is signing your paycheck would probably prefer that you do the job you were hired to do rather than do volunteer work for someone who is trying to get a new job on the taxpayer dime.

So no stuffing envelopes between orders at the drive-thru. No cold-calling voters while you are long-haul trucking. It’s just a bad mix.

But if you work for a government agency? Full stop. Do not pass go. Beyond this place there be dragons.

A Westmoreland County sheriff’s department assistant office manager has been suspended for doing just that. The county controller’s office wouldn’t talk about the suspension, but sources say she was working on a county row officer campaign.

Sheriff Jonathan Held wouldn’t comment other than to say that “Tiffany Schomer is not, and has never been, a member of my political campaign,” and to say that there has been no political activity in the sheriff’s office since he took over in 2012.

But Schomer should have known better specifically because Held’s disclaimer is so eyebrow-raising. The sheriff is, after all, still being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office for charges related to accusations he had staff work on his re-election campaign. His case ended in a mistrial in December and is slated for retrial in April.

Whether Held is or is not guilty is not the point, though. His case was widely known and should have been a giant flashing warning sign for any other candidates or campaign workers who collect a government paycheck.

Candidates, warn your volunteers about what is and isn’t allowed. Volunteers, educate yourself about the rules before you get yourself or the person you are supporting into more trouble than it’s worth.

The above editorial was posted Feb. 24 to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s triblive.com. Its views are its own.

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