Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stephen Simpson says he's a candidate for AG, but not really...

Patsy Brumfield did an excellent job of investigative reporting in today's Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. In trying to answer a question many political observers have been asking, she wrote an article on whether or not Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Simpson is violating the federal Hatch Act by running for office while being employed as a political appointee.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel handles enforcement of the Hatch Act, and it's deputy chief, Erica Hamrick, wouldn't answer whether or not Commissioner Simpson was under investigation...
But she said she could speak generally that state or local appointed officials are covered by the act, if they have specific duties related to administering federally funded programs.

“Generally, the higher up you go in an organization, the more likely you are to be covered by the Hatch Act,” she said, especially for top agency officials who sign off on documents like federal grant applications.

A person is in violation of the Hatch Act, OSC says, “when, at the time he engaged in prohibited conduct, he was covered by the Hatch Act.”
Federal grant applications, you say? Like those federal grants that make up approximately half of the DPS budget? And the ones that pay for Commissioner Simpson's face and voice to be splashed all over Mississippi televisions?

Now, for his part, Simpson says he's "not a candidate" for Attorney General because he hasn't filed papers. Of course, that's the exact opposite of what he was saying 13 days ago, when he barnstormed across the state, telling everyone he was running for Attorney General. Don't believe me? Watch the WLOX video.

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