From the perspective of the Office of Special Counsel, Katz said, the fact is that the Trump transition team does not yet control the Energy Department and so it isn’t implementing personnel practices. Nor has any action yet been taken against any employee as a result of the questionnaire. The Energy Department ultimately refused to provide any names to the transition team.

“If actions were taken against any of these people, because of their political activities either outside of work or because they engaged in climate change work in their official capacities, it would in my view be a clear violation of the law and would be a prohibited personnel practice,” she said.

J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees said the union welcomed the call for an investigation. “Our laws were designed to protect civil servants from political intimidation and retaliation,” he said in a statement, “and any attempt to circumvent these laws must be fully investigated and appropriately addressed.”

But Robert Henneke, the general counsel of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative group, had a different response to the Democrats’ move.

“Every American, including federal employees, have a right to their own [personal] viewpoints,” he said in a statement. “But, executive branch federal employees owe an obligation to be faithful in executing the policies and direction of the next Administration. For those that will not, they should find employment elsewhere.”

December 16 at 5:00 PM