U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES ORDERS REMOVING POSTAL SERVICE
LETTER CARRIERS IN TWO HATCH ACT CASES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3/21/01
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) had granted its petitions to remove Mr. Jack Simmons from his position as a Letter Carrier for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Jeff Davis County, Georgia, and Mr. Gary Lee Hicks from his position as a part-time Letter Carrier for USPS in Nevada County, Arkansas. OSC’s petitions, filed with the MSPB in October 2000, charged both men with violating the Hatch Act’s prohibition on being a candidate for elective office in a partisan election. Under the MSPB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) orders, the Postal Service must remove them from Postal Service employment.
As Postal Service employees, both Mr. Simmons and Mr. Hicks are covered by the federal Hatch Act. Last year, both men filed papers to run as independent candidates in partisan local sheriff races. Both were warned by the OSC and by their Postal Service supervisors that their candidacy violated the Hatch Act. Nevertheless, when OSC filed its petitions in October, they remained active candidates and both continued their candidacies until the November 7th general election.
In the case of Mr. Simmons, he filed papers to run as a candidate for Sheriff of Jeff Davis County. Following warnings from his direct supervisor that his candidacy violated the Hatch Act, OSC also verbally warned Mr. Simmons that his candidacy violated that Act. On October 2, 2000, OSC sent a formal warning letter to him telling him that he was in violation of the Act and that he should withdraw his candidacy or resign from his Postal Service job. (MSPB Docket No. CB-1216-01-003-T-1)
In the case of Mr. Hicks, he tried to avoid the Hatch Act’s proscriptions by submitting a letter in May 2000 to the Postal Service stating his intention to resign from his part-time position in November 2000. The Postal Service informed him that it would not accept a post-dated resignation and that his candidacy for Nevada County Sheriff continued to violate the Hatch Act. In June 2000, OSC also informed Mr. Hicks that his candidacy violated the Hatch Act.
(MSPB Docket No. 1216-01-0001-T-1)
The Hatch Act strictly prohibits most federal and Postal Service employees from running for partisan elective office. It also strictly prohibits state and local employees, who have job duties in connection with federally funded programs from running for partisan office. Last month, MSPB acted on another OSC Hatch Act petition and an ALJ order was issued to remove Mr. Everett O’Donnell from his job as Director of Maintenance for the Warwick Housing Authority. Mr. O’Donnell had also run for partisan elective office.
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.