U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 201
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SEEKS DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN HATCH ACT CASE AGAINST NEW JERSEY EMPLOYEE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 4/7/03
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that it had filed a petition for disciplinary action against Mr. Paul D. Teel, an investigator in the Fraud Investigation Section of the Mercer County Board of Social Services (MCBSS) in Mercer County, New Jersey. OSCís petition, filed April 3rd with the Merit Systems Protection Board, charges Mr. Teel with violating the Hatch Actís prohibition on being a candidate for elective office in a partisan election. (CB-1216-03-0007-T-1)
As an investigative employee of MCBSS Ė a local executive agency of Mercer County that receives federal funds Ė Mr. Teel is covered by the Hatch Act. His primary job duties are investigating misuse of federally-funded programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps. During 1998 and 2000, half of Mr. Teelís salary was federally-funded.
OSCís petition alleges that in 1998, Mr. Teel ran in the June Democratic primary for U.S. Congress, House District 4, a partisan election. Prior to the June election, Mr. Teel was advised by one of his supervisors that he might be violating the Hatch Act and was directed to information listing Hatch Act restrictions. According to OSCís petition, Mr. Teel did not seek further legal advice about his candidacy and continued his door-to-door campaign. Mr. Teel lost the primary election.
In July 1998, MCBSS sent out a memorandum to all its employees, advising them of the Hatch Actís coverage and prohibitions.
According to OSCís petition, Mr. Teel actively ran as an Independent in the November 2000 general election for U.S. Congress, 4th District, New Jersey. Because representatives from the Democratic and Republican parties, among others, were also candidates in this election, this election was partisan within the meaning of the Hatch Act. He lost this election as well.
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/agency will forfeit the federal funds it receives in an amount equal to two years of salary of the employee. The employee may also not be reappointed to a position within that state for the following eighteen months.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency. Among other functions, it investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging violations of the Hatch Act, and provides advisory opinions on the Actís requirements.