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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
 Washington, D.C. 20036-4505


CONTACT: CATHY DEEDS, 202-254-3607, cdeeds@osc.gov
      WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has filed a complaint for disciplinary action against Lorenzo T. Langford, the Mayor of Atlantic City, N.J. OSC’s complaint, filed November 9, 2005, with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), charges Langford with violating the Hatch Act by specifically asking several Atlantic City employees, all of whom were his subordinates, to collect absentee ballots for a partisan political candidate and by signing an endorsement letter, using his mayoral title, for the same partisan political candidate.

      Requesting subordinates to collect absentee ballots for a political purpose violates two separate provisions of the Hatch Act—the prohibition against use of official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election and the prohibition against coercing or attempting to coerce employees to contribute anything of value, including personal services, to a person for a political purpose.

      Langford is covered by the Hatch Act because his primary job duties are in connection with programs that are financed, in whole or in part, by federal loans or grants.

      According to the complaint, Langford held several meetings with the City’s Department Directors in 2003, all of whom were his subordinates, during which he requested the Directors to collect absentee ballots for Stephenine Dixon, then-Democratic candidate for Third Ward Councilmember in the primary election. He also held subsequent meetings during which he requested his subordinate Directors to inform him of the number of ballots they had collected. The complaint further alleges that in May 2003, Langford signed a letter endorsing Dixon using his mayoral title. In the endorsement letter, Langford urged the citizens of Atlantic City to vote for Dixon.

     Special Counsel Scott Bloch said, “One of the main reasons for the original Hatch Act was to prevent political coercion and influence by supervisors in the public workplace. This case shows why the law is still relevant even today. The workplace should not be a place for partisan political activity, and violators will be prosecuted.”

     The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state, county, or municipal executive agencies who have duties in connection with programs financed in whole or part by federal loans or grants. A covered employee may not use his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election, or coerce or attempt to coerce covered employees to contribute anything of value to a person for political purposes. The penalty for a proven violation of the Act by a state or local employee is removal of the employee from his/her position by the state/local agency and debarment from state/local employment for the following 18 months or if removal is not effectuated, forfeiture of federal grant funds by the state/local agency in an amount equal to two years of the salary of the employee in addition to the 18-month debarment.


The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints and abuse of authority. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-9855.