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

OSC: Ohio Prosecutor
Violated Hatch Act
Official, Assistant Pressured Subordinates
To Make Political Contributions

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 7/12/07
CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov


WASHINGTON, DC – A local prosecutor in Ohio, Mathias Heck, along with his assistant, Greg Flannagan, repeatedly pressured subordinates to contribute money and time to political campaigns, in defiance of federal law. This according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a small independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act, the law that limits political activity by government employees.

      OSC has filed for disciplinary action against Mr. Heck, the Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney, and Mr. Flannagan, his executive assistant, charging them with multiple violations. According to the filing, the pair used their official authority to interfere with or affect the results of elections and coerce Hatch Act-covered employees into contributing money and time to the local Democratic party.

      Mr. Heck was first elected Montgomery County Prosecutor in 1992 and has successfully run for re-election every four years since then. In each election, he has represented the Democratic party. (As an elected official, he is not prohibited by the Hatch Act from running for re-election. 5 U.S.C. 1501(c).)

      The Prosecutor’s Office has received three federal grants – the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, and the IV-D grant – since at least 1997. The IV-D grant originates from the Child Support Enforcement Program under the Social Security Act and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees the program. The U.S. Department of Justice administers the VOCA and VAWA grants. Mr. Heck is covered by the Hatch Act due to his oversight of the Prosecutor’s Office programs funded by these grants and his responsibility for seeking and receiving the grants. Mr. Flannagan was covered by the Hatch Act because he was paid by and otherwise had duties in connection with the IV-D grant received by the Prosecutor’s Office.

      Among other things, OSC’s complaint alleges that Mr. Heck coerced subordinates to make yearly contributions to two Democratic party fundraisers, to volunteer for his 2004 re-election campaign, and to volunteer their time to the Democratic Party; used Prosecutor’s Office resources to further his 2004 candidacy for re-election to the Prosecutor position; and used his official authority to interfere with or affect the outcome of the 2004 election for United States Congress in which Jane Mitakides was a candidate.

     OSC’s complaint alleges that Mr. Flannagan similarly coerced employees, including subordinates, to make contributions to two yearly Democratic party fundraisers, and to volunteer on behalf of the Democratic party and on behalf of Cindi Heck, Mr. Heck’s wife, during her 2005 candidacy in a partisan election; and used Prosecutor’s Office resources to further Mr. Heck’s 2004 candidacy for re-election to the Prosecutor position.

     Special Counsel Scott Bloch noted, “Coercion cases such as the one involving Mr. Heck and Mr. Flannagan feature the most pernicious sort of Hatch Act violations. Indeed, this sort of activity is exactly why the law was originally passed. We are confident of our course in this case and we stand ready to prosecute any and all violations of the Hatch Act.”

      The Hatch Act strictly prohibits state and local employees who have duties in connection with federally-funded programs from being candidates in partisan elections. 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 eighteen months, or forfeiture of federal grant funds by the state/local agency in an amount equal to two years of the salary of the employee.


 

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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 regarding the Act’s requirements. For more information about OSC, please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1-800-872-1855.
 

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