U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES REDUCTION IN FEDERAL MEDICAID PAYMENT TO STATE OF CONNECTICUT
IN HATCH ACT SETTLEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 1/18/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), announced the withholding of more than sixty-seven thousand dollars in Medicaid funds as part of a voluntary settlement of a Hatch Act case involving a Connecticut state employee who ran for partisan political office.
On July 9, 1999, the OSC charged Willie J. Moore, an employee of the Connecticut Department of Mental Retardation, with a violation of the Hatch Act after he ran as the Democratic Party candidate for the position of Alderman of New Haven, Connecticut. The Department of Mental Retardation receives annual Medicaid grants from the Health Care Financing Administration
(HCFA), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 1502) provides that state and local government employees, who work for governments receiving federal loan or grant money, may not be partisan candidates for elective office. The penalties for a proven violation of the Hatch Act involving state or local government employees are the employee’s removal from employment or the state or local government’s forfeiture of federal funds equal to twice the employee’s salary at the time of the violation.
The State of Connecticut, as part of a negotiated settlement, conceded that Mr. Moore violated the Hatch Act and that a penalty was warranted. The State of Connecticut was not willing, however, to remove Mr. Moore from state employment as a penalty, citing a state law prohibiting it from removing employees for engaging in political activities. Instead, it voluntarily agreed to forfeit $67,592.20 from its next federal Medicaid grant and continue to retain Mr. Moore as an employee. Merit Systems Protection Board
(MSPB) Chief Administrative Law Judge Paul Streb approved the settlement on November 17, 1999, and ordered the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to withhold the Medicaid funds no later than January 16, 2000. On January 3, 2000, HCFA withheld $67,592.20 from the State of Connecticut’s Fiscal Year 2000 second-quarter grant payment.
(MSPB Docket No. CB-1216-99-0061-T-1)
Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan praised the State of Connecticut for “its cooperation in quickly resolving this clear-cut violation of law.” She noted, “that due to their unique state law, Connecticut will bear the cost of this violation.” She said, “While I’d rather have it the other way around, with the penalty falling on the individual who violates the Act, I do intend to aggressively enforce the provisions of the Hatch Act.”
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel provides an independent avenue to protect merit system principles in federal government. OSC receives, investigates and prosecutes before the MSPB allegations concerning federal, state, or local government employee political activity prohibited by the Hatch Act.