U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
OSC: New Jersey Housing Director
Violated Hatch Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 2/8/07***
CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714,
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has filed a
complaint for disciplinary action against Mark Holmes, the Executive
Director of the East Orange Housing Authority in East Orange, New Jersey.
OSC’s complaint, filed with the Merit
Systems Protection Board, charges Holmes knowingly violated the Hatch Act by
being a candidate for public office in a partisan election.
Holmes is covered by the Hatch Act because
he serves as Executive Director of a Housing Authority that gives out
federal grant money (roughly $7 million in housing vouchers in 2005 alone).
The East Orange Housing Authority receives grants from the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development for its overall operating expenses, and it
also administers HUD Housing Voucher Assistance Payments.
OSC alleges that Holmes was a candidate in
the November 2005 partisan election for Lawrence Township Council. The
agency also alleges that when Holmes was a candidate in that election, he
knew about the Hatch Act’s restrictions on political activity.
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. An employee covered by the Act is
prohibited from being a candidate for public office in a partisan election.
The possible penalty for violating the Act is removal of the employee from
his or her position with the state or local agency and debarment from
employment with a state or local agency within the same state for the
following 18 months.
Special Counsel Scott Bloch stated, “The
Hatch Act’s provisions are quite clear in cases like this. Given the
apparently deliberate defiance of the law, our responsibility is plain. If
the law was violated, especially when it is a higher level official, I
believe it is my duty to take action.”
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
regarding the Act’s requirements. For more information about OSC, please
visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call
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