District Attorney looking into Hatch Act implications

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2011



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Tom Daley said he will submit a formal written request to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for a ruling on whether the intentions of Public Safety Director Mike Tregre to run for sheriff in St. John violates the federal Hatch Act.

The Hatch Act is a 1939 law that regulates the political activities of federal employees and some state and local government workers. The legislation prohibits nearly all partisan activity by federal employees, banning them from endorsing candidates, distributing campaign literature, organizing political activities and holding posts in partisan organizations.

Daley said he is trying to determine whether Tregre’s public assertion that he plans to run for sheriff as well as a campaign website — miketregre.com — that was live for at least one day expressing Tregre’s intent to run this fall are violations of the Hatch Act. He said Tregre’s position as director of public safety and civil defense puts him under the Hatch Act Umbrella since about one-third of Tregre’s salary is funded by federal grants.

Daley said he is also looking to determine whether the St. John Sheriff’s race is a partisan or non-partisan election. He said Louisiana operates under a hybrid system with open primaries where everyone runs against each other and the top two candidates, regardless of party, enter a runoff.

Daley added that political affiliations appear on the ballots, which could make it a partisan election.

Daley said the investigation originated within his office in an attempt to receive an objective opinion regarding the questions surrounding the race. He said it is not clear what the penalty would be if Tregre is found in violation, but he said it could jeopardize federal funding of up to twice the federal allotment for Tregre’s salary.

Tregre said he met with Daley to discuss the opinion and said he would be able to look at what was to be filed before it would be filed. Tregre said he wants to know if there was a violation because he wants to pursue the election the right way.

Daley said it is not clear how it would take to render an opinion.