U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SEEKS DISCIPLINARY
ACTION IN HATCH ACT CASE AGAINST EPA REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 4/11/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) filed
a petition for disciplinary action against Mr. William Yellowtail, Regional
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Denver, Colorado, for
violating the Hatch Act. OSC’s petition charged that Mr. Yellowtail
violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition on knowingly soliciting political
Mr. Yellowtail was originally appointed to his position
as the Regional Administrator, EPA, Denver, CO in January 1994. According to
OSC’s petition, during his initial employment with EPA, Mr. Yellowtail
received general Hatch Act training. In addition, he received an e-mail from
EPA Associate General Counsel, Mr. David Schachterle, outlining Hatch Act
restrictions, and specifically stating, “the most important restriction,
and probably the one most likely to lead to problems, involves fundraising
and includes soliciting, accepting, or receiving political contributions
from others . . . .”
In March 1996, Mr. Yellowtail resigned from his position
with EPA in order to run for the Congressional seat in Montana. According to
OSC’s petition, prior to leaving his position, he and members of his staff
stated that they took great care to avoid any Hatch Act violations.
Following his unsuccessful bid for Congress, Mr. Yellowtail was reappointed
to his former position as Regional Administrator in September 1997.
OSC’s petition alleges that in February 1998, Mr.
Yellowtail met with Joe Lamsom, his former campaign manager; Robert
Deschamps, a candidate for the Montana Congressional seat; and Mr. Deschamps’
campaign manager David McAlpin. During that meeting, according to the
petition, the participants discussed endorsement of Mr. Deschamps by Mr.
Yellowtail and the solicitation of campaign contributions.
Shortly after the meeting, an endorsement/fundraising
letter was drafted for Mr. Yellowtail’s review and approval that stated,
“[I]t is going to take a solid commitment from all of us to put in the
hours volunteering, talking to our neighbors and digging in our pockets for
campaign contributions.” The letter further stated, “Contributing now to
Dusty’s [Deschamps] campaign is absolutely critical,” and “ . . . make
a contribution today.” OSC’s petition alleges that Mr. Yellowtail
reviewed the draft letter and authorized the Deschamps’ campaign to sign
his name to it. Subsequently, the campaign distributed the letter, from Mr.
Yellowtail, to numerous potential supporters of Mr. Deschamps.
The penalty for a proven violation of the Hatch Act is
the employee’s removal from employment or, if the MSPB decides that
removal is not warranted, a penalty of not less than a 30-day suspension.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent investigative and
prosecutorial agency. Among other things, it investigates and prosecutes
complaints alleging violations of the Hatch Act, and provides advisory
opinions on the Act’s requirements.