U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN HATCH ACT CASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3/6/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that the Merit Systems Protection Board
(MSPB) had granted its request to order the 30-day suspension of a Postal Service employee who ran as a partisan candidate in a school board election. OSC’s petition, filed in August, charged that David L. Pierce violated the Hatch Act when he cross-filed as both a Democratic and Republican candidate for the position of School Board Director in Oxford, Pennsylvania. Under the Board’s order, Mr. Pierce will be suspended from his job for thirty days without pay. He must begin serving this suspension by the end of this month.
After running on both parties’ slates, Mr. Pierce was elected as School Board Director. He resigned from this position after the OSC began prosecuting him for violating the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(3)) provides that federal government and Postal Service employees may not be partisan candidates for elective office. The penalty for a proven violation of the Hatch Act is the employee’s removal from employment or a penalty of not less than a 30-day suspension.
Mr. Pierce conceded that he violated the Act. The OSC and MSPB agreed, given the facts of the case, that a removal penalty was not warranted and that a 30-day suspension was an appropriate penalty. MSPB Chief Administrative Law Judge Paul Streb approved the penalty on November 17, 1999. On February 24, 2000, the full Board approved the penalty.
(MSPB Docket Number CB-1216-99-0063-T-1)
Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan noted, “Mr. Pierce learned the hard way, that filing as both a Democratic and Republican candidate does not negate the Hatch Act’s ban on partisan candidacy. With election season upon us, I would urge any federal employee who wants to be politically involved to seek advice from our Office if they have concerns about what’s permissible. The answers to most Hatch Act questions are available at our web site,
www.osc.gov, with the click of a button.”
Kaplan concluded, “While our Office tries to prevent violations from ever occurring through the use of advisory opinions and educational programs, I do intend to aggressively enforce penalties under the Hatch Act when violations take place. Violators will be prosecuted.”
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. As part of its efforts to educate the federal workforce about the Hatch Act, the OSC is currently holding a series of forums around the country to increase employee awareness. One will be held this week in Washington, D.C. and the next is scheduled in New York on April 4th.