The Hatch Act Strikes Again
Taking his back pay as a lump sum solved Israel's problems with the Office of Special Counsel-but not with Meyer. "He tried to arrange backroom deals to get around the Hatch Act so he could run and still get all the benefits of keeping his job," she says. "Even if he does retire now, he's violated the public trust. I don't think he should run and I don't think he should be elected." In mid-October, Meyer announced that she and four others defeated in the August primary will run as write-in candidates in November. They're calling their slate "Honest and Experienced Leadership."
"The whole notion of the Hatch Act being applied locally is quite novel to people's experience around here," comments county clerk Larry Kestenbaum. "Absolutely it's happening more, and absolutely in ways that had not been intended. At the time the Hatch Act was written, local government didn't do federally funded initiatives, and it needs to be reconsidered in light of the enormously expanded role of the federal government, especially since 9/11. If this is what they want, the pool of potential candidates for local office is going to shrink dramatically."
Asked whether he thinks the Hatch Act was appropriately applied in his case, Israel declares passionately, "No! This is absolutely ridiculous! The way they interpret it now, almost no government worker would be eligible to run for office. You'll have to FOIA yourself before you decide to run to make sure you're not breaking the law."
[Originally published in October, 2008.]