Oh I agree that govt. jobs are treated differently. Just don't think it should matter. ;)
Govmnt employees would probably have to commit murder before ever getting fired.
I know what this guy did was wrong and bad and I think he should be punished for it. My thought is some sort of suspension without pay, and then close supervision for a time. However, if this is one incident in 25 years with a good record, I dont think he should be fired. Now if it were to happen again, or if other people now came forward with similar e-mails then I would reconsider my stance, but just one incidence in all that time seems to me that there must be something going on with him at this time that is out of the ordinary. I dont know about you, but I would rather work for a boss that has some compassion, looks at the larger picture, and doesnt just have a knee jerk reaction of firing a good long term employee for one misstep.
I guess it depends on his hiring contract. If I did this I would have anything from verbal warning to termination. It's completely open. I doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that doing something like this could cost you your job regardless of how great you were or how long you've been your job.