U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES BOARD ORDER REMOVING LOCAL AGENCY EMPLOYEE FOR VIOLATING HATCH ACT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3/18/02
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) granted its petition to order the removal of Ms. Gladys Perry from her position as Community Outreach Coordinator with the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties, Inc. (JCEO), in New York. OSC’s petition, filed with MSPB in December 2000, charged Ms. Perry with willfully violating the Hatch Act’s prohibition on being a candidate for partisan elective office.
Under the Board’s order, the JCEO was required to remove Ms. Perry from her position within thirty days. Ms. Perry resigned from her job on February 22, 2002. Had she not resigned or been removed during this time frame, the order called for federal funds to be withheld from the JCEO in an amount equal to two years of Ms. Perry’s salary. The order further states that should Ms. Perry be rehired by a state or local agency in the state of New York within eighteen months after her removal, the MSPB will order a withholding of federal funds in the amount equal to two years of Ms. Perry’s salary. The MSPB order became final on February 28, 2002. (MSPB Docket No. CB-1216-01-0006-T-1)
As a JCEO employee, Ms. Perry’s job duties were connected to federal funding through the Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG). Prior to 1998, employees working in connection with CSBG funds, including Ms. Perry, were not covered under the Hatch Act. However, the CSBG statute was amended in 1998 to require that employees of non-profit agencies receiving CSBG funding, be covered under the Hatch Act in the same way that employees of state and local agencies, receiving federal funding, are covered.
Prior to 1998, Ms. Perry served as Area 8 County Legislator for Clinton County, New York. In April 2000, the executive director of the JCEO informed Ms. Perry that the JCEO board believed that she would violate the Hatch Act if she ran for re-election as a partisan candidate for county legislature. In July 2000, the JCEO executive director told Ms. Perry that she could not campaign due to the Hatch Act. Ms. Perry continued to run for office and defeated her Republican primary opponent on September 12, 2000.
In September 2000, the OSC warned Ms. Perry and her attorney that her candidacy appeared to violate the Hatch Act and, in October 2000, OSC formally advised Ms. Perry, through her attorney, that she must resign from her job or withdraw her candidacy. Nevertheless, Ms. Perry continued her campaign and ran as the Republican candidate in the November 7, 2000 general election.
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 willful 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 years’ pay of the employee. The employee may also not be reappointed to a state or local position in that state for the following 18 months.