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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced a decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) affirming OSC's requested penalty for removal of a federal employee who violated the Hatch Act by running as a candidate for partisan political office numerous times over the past decade.
Since 2010, Keith Arnold served as an employee of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2016, OSC filed a Complaint for Disciplinary Action against Mr. Arnold, charging him with violating the Hatch Act by running in the primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives 8th Congressional District in Washington State. OSC had previously issued him a warning letter for running in the same primary in 2012.
An initial decision issued in January 2017 by an MSPB administrative law judge found that OSC proved its case, and that removal was the appropriate penalty for the violation. However, Mr. Arnold filed an appeal and has been able to maintain his federal position since that time due to a lack of quorum at MSPB. During this time, Mr. Arnold has continued to run as a candidate for the same office every two years, including in last year's primary. In each campaign, Mr. Arnold's campaign website has declared that he is a “proud federal employee" referencing his position at NOAA in violation of the Hatch Act.
“While disciplinary action has taken some time due to a lack of quorum at MSPB, I am pleased that Mr. Arnold will finally be removed from his federal position for egregious and ongoing violations of the Hatch Act," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner.