October 10, 2008

Hatch Act & Niagara County

Niagara Times has received a United States Office of Special Counsel opinion related to the actions of former Niagara County Sheriff Tom Beilein. The opinion cites multiple violations of the Hatch Act. Beilein skated punsihment of these violations based on the OSC's opinion that he had solicited advice from two attorneys that gave him bad advice. The opinion follows:

The Hatch Act restricts political activity of individuals employed in government agencies in connection with programs financed in whole or part of grants made by the United States. These individuals may not be a candidate for public office nor attempt to coerce covered employees for contributions.

Sheriff candidate Jim Voutour is the NCSD Chief Deputy. He has administrative and managerial responsibility of law enforcement and correctional services as stated in his job description. Those duties include: Establish policies programs and regulations; Supervise administrative functions of all divisions including care for inmates; Further recommends disciplinary actions on employees; and trains direct supervisors and evaluates officers.

Sheriff Beilein was found to have violated U.S.C. 1501(a) (1) and (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this act by the US Office of Special Counsel. He supervised investigators in the Drug Task Force Juvenile Bureau, Criminal Investigators, and Crime prevention office.

Jim Voutour supervises Investigators of Social Services whose funds come from federal monies. Additional areas financed by Federal money:

Investigator paid through the US Marshals Office.
Investigator paid through Drug Task Force
Investigator paid through Homeland Security
Federal Homeland Security money for training and Radio room installation.
Marine Division
Domestic Violence Unit
Victims assistance Unit
Crime prevention grants (Edward Byrne Criminal Justice grants)
Traffic safety grants/Traffic safety fair
Federal Marshal program of housing federal prisoners.

The county treasurer's office will show any federal money or grants.

Here's the question: Since Beilein was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, does that make Voutour in violation? This is certainly a question for someone well above my pay grade, but one that certainly deserves an answer.


From Lewiston said...

I think the kid "Voutour" will do what Beilein did. Ignore it, and hope it will be a non issue

Mr. Pink said...

Agreed. They never enforce this stuff. Voutour will do an aw shucks and that will be the end of it. The Hatch Act should probably be abolished any ways.