Utah group files Hatch Act complaint against Kanab lawmaker Fed funds • Action comes in wake of ruling against Ogden police chief

By Robert Gehrke

Published: December 9, 2011

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File Photo | The Salt Lake Tribune Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab

The group Alliance for a Better Utah filed a complaint Friday alleging that state Rep. Mike Noel violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits individuals from managing federal funds while being a candidate for political office.

The complaint comes on the heels of a ruling by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on similar claims that Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner violated the Hatch Act by serving as a state senator while he was police chief.

If the complaint is successful, it could force Noel out of the Legislature.

Noel is the director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, which received $8.2 million in federal funds through grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We believe that Representative Mike Noel and anyone else who may be in a similar position should be investigated for similar violations,” the alliance Friday said in a news release.

The Kanab lawmaker could not be reached for comment Friday.

The alliance bills itself as an education organization advocating progressive policies. It is not officially affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Board members include a prominent Republican fundraiser and former GOP legislator, but the alliance’s executive director, Maryann Martindale, has run a Democratic campaign and records show its corporate officers include the Democratic Party’s executive director.

Last week, Greiner lost an appeal of a ruling by the Office of Special Counsel that found that he violated the Hatch Act by administering federal funds while he was chief. The decision means that Ogden City must either fire Greiner or jeopardize about $215,000 in federal funding.

Ogden’s mayor-elect said the city has not decided what action it will take.

Carolyn Lerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, said in a column in The New York Times in October that the Hatch Act, meant to keep political influence out of the federal workplace, has increasingly been used to prevent candidates in state and local races from running because their career deals with federal funding.

“Increasingly, the act is being used as a political weapon to disqualify otherwise well-qualified candidates, even when there is no indication of wrongdoing,” she wrote. “An allegation that a candidate has violated federal law ­­— simply by stepping forward to run — can cast a cloud.”


© 2011 The Salt Lake Tribune

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