If Huntsman overtly signaled that aides should prepare an operation to help elect him president, that would put him in dangerous territory, lawyers said.
That’s because anything resembling campaign activity on Huntsman’s part could potentially run afoul of the Hatch Act, which restricts executive branch officials from campaigning for office — or authorizing others to campaign and raise money on their behalf.
Federal law is relatively strict in barring employees from political activity while on duty, and special rules for ambassadors indicate that they are considered “on post” — or on duty — at all times when they are in their host countries. George Terwilliger, a former Bush-Cheney campaign adviser and a top Justice Department official under President George H.W. Bush, noted that there have traditionally been higher public expectations — if not always tougher legal limits — for officials involved in national security…
And it’s not just the Hatch Act that Huntsman has to worry about. There are also even more-restrictive State Department guidelines on what officials are allowed and not allowed to do in the political arena.