U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL CHARGES CANDIDATE FOR
D.C. CITY COUNCIL WITH HATCH ACT VIOLATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 10/13/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) filed a
petition for disciplinary action against Mr. Tom Briggs, who is employed as
a teacher by the District of Columbia Public School System, and who is an
active candidate for election to the D.C. City Council as Ward Two
representative. OSC’s petition, filed with the Merit Systems Protection
Board (MSPB), charges Mr. Briggs with violating the Hatch Act’s
prohibition on being a candidate for elective office in a partisan election.
As a schoolteacher, Mr. Briggs is an employee of the
District of Columbia and is covered by the federal Hatch Act. In early July
2000, Mr. Briggs filed papers to run as the D.C. Statehood Green party
candidate for the position of Ward Two Member of the D.C. City Council.
According to OSC’s petition, on September 26, 2000, an
OSC attorney verbally informed Mr. Briggs that his candidacy violated the
Hatch Act and that he must resign from his job or withdraw his candidacy in
order to avoid prosecution. On October 2, 2000, the OSC sent Mr. Briggs a
formal warning letter to the same effect. The letter stated, “Rather than
pursue disciplinary action against you at this time, we are providing you
with an opportunity to correct your violation.”
Nonetheless, to date, Mr. Briggs continues to be employed
by the D.C. Public School System and continues to campaign for the City
Council seat against Democratic candidate Jack Evans.
Prior to 1993, D.C. schoolteachers were exempt from the
provisions of the Hatch Act. Congress amended the law in 1993, however,
eliminating that exemption. The Hatch Act penalties for D.C. employees are
the same as they are for federal civilian employees. The penalty for a
proven violation is the employee’s removal from employment or, if the
Merit Systems Protection Board 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.