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Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 281 to Selling Activities of Retired Military Officers

Date of Issuance:

Section 281 of Title 18, United States Code, which prohibits certain representational activities by federal employees, is presently in force as applied to retired officers of the armed forces, and in appropriate cases a violation could warrant criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice.

The prohibitions of the first paragraph of § 281 apply only to retired officers on active duty, but under its second paragraph inactive retired officers are also prohibited from engaging in certain selling activities.

The prohibition in the second paragraph of § 281 was intended generally to prevent retired officers from being in a position to exert their influence in the procurement process of the military department in which they once served, and applies to representational activities in connection with the sale of services as well as the sale of goods. However, its prohibition does not extend to a situation in which the retired officer can fairly be said to be representing only himself and no one else as a seller.

Updated July 9, 2014