Friday, November 7, 2008

U.S. Office of Special Counsel letter to Complainant

Re: OSC File No. HA-08-1494

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has determined that Mr. Dan Pike, (due to the fact that he had duties in connection with federally funded activities), was covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act in his position as Transportation Director for Skagit Council of Governments. (SCOG).

In a letter dated October 31, 2008, Ms. Eldredge, a senior Hatch Act attorney explained, (please see letter below for a full explanation of the Hatch Act Unit's determination) that "an employee covered by the Act may not be a candidate for public office in a partisan election, i.e,, an office for which any candidate is to be nominated or elected as representing, for example, the Republican or Democratic Party.

Based on the proceeding, we have determined that Mr. Pike's candidacy for Mayor of Bellingham, Washington, violated the Hatch Act. However, we have insufficient evidence to prove that Mr. Pike knowingly or willfully violated the law. Therefore, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action in this matter and we are closing our file."

What happens next?

The complainant can (and has) submitted additional evidence to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel requesting that they re-open the file and take disciplinary action against Mr. Pike. Or, the complainant has the option to file a suit in court to pursue disciplinary action. (In the same way that Knoll Lowney filed suit against the BIAW on behalf of former Supreme Court Justices Faith Ireland and Robert Utter). or, in Burke v. Bennett, a Hatch Act law suit originally filed regarding the 2007 Terre Haute Indiana Mayor's race. The suit is pending - awaiting an appeals court decision.

It's important to remember that complainants, at both the federal and state level, have a number of political venues to choose from when seeking disciplinary action against a candidate for alleged campaign violations.

*Please note that complainants are not precluded from using an array of political venues to seek disciplinary action for alleged violations. For example, a complainant is often required to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a suit in court).

The burden of proof for providing evidence in a campaign related complaint rests squarely on the complainant.

Hence, we will have to wait for OSC to decide if Mr. Paxton's supplemental evidence is sufficient for the OSC to re-open the case and take disciplinary action against Mr. Pike.

Here's a copy of the letter Mr. Paxton received from the Office of Special Counsel for your review. us-office-of-special-counsel-letter

Media: please note that the OSC has a liaison for media. You can find Anthony's phone number on the OSC website under contacts.

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