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Hatch Act may threaten another council candidacy

February 22, 2001

Hatch Act may threaten another council candidacy



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The federal Hatch Act has pushed one Hagerstown City Council candidate from the race and may claim another - Democrat John A. Budesky.

Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said he doesn't think Budesky, the executive director of the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, will have to withdraw, but he's checking.

Douglas has asked the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which enforces and offers advisory opinions on the Hatch Act, whether the law applies to Budesky.

Douglas did not know when he would get an answer. He said the Office of Special Counsel is aware of the city's March 13 primary, and expects the matter will be given high priority.

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Office of the Special Counsel officials did not return telephone messages left Thursday.

The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees and some state and local government employees from being candidates in partisan elections. For state and local government employees, the law normally applies to those whose jobs are partly federally funded, those who supervise people in federally funded positions, and those who oversee the spending of federal money.

Democrat Brian E. Coss, a state Department of Social Services employee whose position is partly federally funded, announced Wednesday he was withdrawing from the council race because of the Hatch Act.

Budesky said his salary is "100 percent county funded. All the money we manage comes from the Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families. And I don't contract with the federal government for any of my programs."

"At this time they don't believe it's an issue," Budesky said.

Budesky said some state funds to his department might come to the state from the federal government.

Douglas said, "As far as I can tell all of his money comes from the state. But (in) some of that money going to the state, apparently there is some from the federal government."

Before filing to run, Budesky checked with Douglas and was told there was no problem.

"If I thought for one second it would be an issue I wouldn't have filed," Budesky said.

Douglas said he looked into applicable state laws.

"I basically just missed the Hatch Act because I didn't think it extended to state and local governments," Douglas said.

When Budesky heard that Coss was dropping out of the council race because of the Hatch Act, "he called right away," Douglas said.

Other council candidates who work for the state or local governments said Thursday they believe the Hatch Act does not apply to them.

Republican Paul H. Toothman is an agent for the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation.

Democrat Kristin B. Aleshire is a planner for the towns of Middletown and Myersville in Frederick County, Md.

N. Linn Hendershot, a Democrat, is communications director at the state's Western Maryland Hospital Center.

Steven T. Sager, also a Democrat, is a regional representative in the Division of Neighborhood Revitalization for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

They all said Thursday that they are not paid with federal money, they do not oversee the spending of federal money and are not supervisors.

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