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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SEEKS DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN TWO HATCH ACT CASES


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 9/12/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
(202) 653-7984

    Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that it has filed petitions for disciplinary action with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board against two state employees for violating the Hatch Act. The first petition was filed on August 4, 2000, against Ms. Delores Ledesma, Home Support Specialist, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and against the State of Washington. The second petition was filed on September 1, 2000, against Ms. Gaynell Tinker, Service Social Worker, Alabama Department of Human Resources in Hale County and against the State of Alabama. OSCís petitions charge both women with violating the Hatch Actís prohibition on being a candidate for elective office in a partisan election. (MSPB Docket Nos. CB-1216-00-0025-T-1 and CB-1216-00-0029-T-1.)

    In the case involving Ms. Tinker, OSCís petition alleges that on February 10, 2000, Alabama officials advised Ms. Tinker that her candidacy for Hale County Circuit Clerk violated the federal Hatch Act and Department policy. Officials of the OSC also warned Ms. Tinker by letter dated April 19, 2000, that her candidacy violated the Hatch Act. In response, Ms. Tinker informed the OSC that she would resign from her covered position after the general election. By letter dated June 5, 2000, the OSC advised Ms. Tinker that a resignation after the election would not comply with the Hatch Act.

    Despite these warnings, Ms. Tinker ran in the primary election on June 6, 2000, and is currently registered as a candidate for the November 7, 2000, general election.

    In the Washington State case, OSCís petition alleges that on August 7, 1998, Ms. Ledesma registered as a candidate for state representative from the 15th District in Washington for the state legislature. DSHS officials advised Ms. Ledesma on August 12, 1998, that her candidacy for the state legislature violated the Hatch Act and DSHS policy. Nevertheless, according to OSCís complaint, Ms. Ledesma continued her candidacy and stood for election in November 1998. While she lost the election, she remains a state employee subject to disciplinary action.

    The Hatch Act strictly prohibits state and local employees, who have job duties in connection with federally funded programs from running for partisan office. The penalty for a proven violation of the Act by a state or local employee is that the employee must be removed from his/her position by the state or local agency or the state will forfeit federal funds it receives in an amount equal to two yearsí pay of the employee. The employee may also not be reappointed to a position in that state for the following 18 months. 

    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 Actís requirements. 


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