U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
OSC: HHS Grantee Administrator Suspended
Candidacy by Wisconsin Official Violated Hatch Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 8/28/07***
CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714,
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has found
that Diane Bluthardt, Area Unit Director for the Vilas County Commission on
Aging, in Vilas County, Wisconsin, violated the Hatch Act by her candidacy
in the September 2006 primary election for Vilas County Clerk.
As Ms. Bluthardt is responsible for planning and
administering a nutrition program that is funded in part by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, OSC found that she is covered by
the Hatch Act. Thus, OSC concluded that her candidacy violated the Hatch Act
prohibition against being a candidate in a partisan election.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Ms.
Bluthardt will receive disciplinary action for her Hatch Act violation.
An independent watchdog agency, OSC enforces the Hatch
Act, a law that limits political activity by federal employees. The Hatch
Act is a law designed to protect the merit system and preserve the
nonpartisan nature of government.
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.
The U.S. Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, commented, “The
wall between those who compete in partisan elections and those who conduct
the nonpartisan business of government must be maintained scrupulously. OSC
will pursue this end with every means at our disposal.”
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. 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 (USERRA). For more
information please visit our web site at
www.osc.gov or call 1 (800) 872-9855.
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