Hatch Act Violations? Here?

The RIGOP has filed a formal request to investigate possible Hatch Act violations by the following candidates for the General Assembly.

Elaine Coderre, House District 50 (incumbent)
Grace Diaz, House District 11 (incumbent)
Arthur Handy, House District 18 (incumbent)
Beatrice Lanzi, Senate District 26
MaryAnn Shallcross, House District 46
Anastasia Williams, House District 9 (incumbent)

Excerpt from the request:

… the Hatch Act restricts political activities of federal, state and local employees, as well as employees of certain private, non-profit organizations. In passing the act, Congress determined that partisan political activity by employees such as these must be limited for public institutions to function fairly and effectively.

I was surprised and pleased to learn that the Hatch Act does not just apply to federal employees but, in fact, also to state and local employees. On any level of government, tax dollars in the form of salaries spent in a way that enables that employee to continue drawing a taxpayer funded paycheck by advancing or extending the political career of his or her elected patron confers an obvious and unfair advantage in the political process. (Next stop: members of public employee unions and their immediate family members serving on school committees.)

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14 years ago

Not a legislative candidate, but add to that list Cranston Ward 3 School Committee candidate and current City Councilwoman Paula McFarland, Director, Rhode Island Community Action Association

14 years ago

Maybe someone else will correct me, but I’m pretty sure that the Hatch Act has very limited impact on state and municipal employees.
If I recall correctly, the Hatch Act applies to state and local employees only if their salaries are paid by direct grant of federal funds.
So a municipal employee who is hired to staff a federal grant program might be covered, but a town maintenance worker who is paid from general funds would not be.
Similarly, on the state level an employee who is hired on federal grant funds would be covered, but the majority of state employees would not be.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
14 years ago

The Hatch Act only applies to federal and and possibly federally paid employees.

Matt Jerzyk
14 years ago

The funny thing is that the letter lists the wrong jobs for at least two of these candidates.
The RI GOP can’t even do their due diligence before lobbing accusations?
What would it take to double-check the employment of these folks? A phone call to the Gen Assembly press office?
No wonder they keep losing election after election!!!

14 years ago

I thought the the same thing that you did, but apparently I’ve been wrong for a while.
The webpage of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel has this to say on the subject…

The Hatch Act applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. Employees who work for educational or research institutions which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act.

Employees of private nonprofit organizations are covered by the Hatch Act only if the statute through which the organization receives its federal funds contains language which states that the organization shall be considered to be a state or local agency for purposes of the Hatch Act, e.g., Headstart and Community Service Block Grant statutes…

Covered state and local employees may not-

  • be candidates for public office in a partisan election
  • use official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination
  • directly or indirectly coerce contributions from subordinates in support of a political party or candidate
joe bernstein
joe bernstein
14 years ago

That is a surprise to me.I was a full time federal employee so I was never in doubt that it applied to me.
The statement you quoted sounds like it should be called the “lawyers’ full employment act”for all the litigation it could lead to.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Actually, Lawyers’ Full Employment is a package of acts passed over the last couple hundred years. I hear they’re pushing for a Constitutional Amendment.

14 years ago

No wonder they keep losing election after election!!!
Posted by Matt Jerzyk at October 19, 2008 1:48 PM
Hmmmmm. You were 13 the last time your party elected a governor. 2 years before you commited felony voter fraud by illegally voting for Clinton in 1992 as you admitted in an August 2, 2007 post on your blog.

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