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 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

CONTACT: Loren Smith, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov

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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