Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 11, 2006

Livesay accused of conflict of interest

The Hatch Act is a provision of federal law that prohibits those who apply for and supervise federal funds from seeking office in a partisan election.

Wayne Livesay filed to run for Howard County Council on Feb. 22 and then actively campaigned for the seat while Chief of Police. As such, I believe from that moment Mr. Livesay was in violation of the Hatch Act.

The Sun reported, "According to the opinion [by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel], Livesay's signature on current federal grant applications and his supervision of their implementation means he is covered by the Hatch Act."

The guidelines for application for and use of federal grants are clear, especially for one who supervised the process for eight years as Chief of Police.

I am mystified that Mr. Livesay told The Washington Post, "When I first filed for office, I had never heard of the Hatch Act before. ... I didn't even know there was such a thing."

By law, states and localities are required to provide assurance of compliance with federal requirements contained in the "Application for Federal Assistance," every single time a grant application is submitted to an individual federal agency. This includes the Hatch Act. These assurances are contained in a two-page document that must be signed by the applicant. The Hatch Act is clearly spelled out.

If Mr. Livesay signed the "Application for Federal Assistance," as The Sun reported, and submitted the "assurances," how is it possible that Mr. Livesay never heard of the Hatch Act?

I take Mr. Livesay at his word. However, it is no excuse and brings up other questions. Did Mr. Livesay understand what he was signing? If such an important detail escaped his attention for eight years is that how he expects to approach multitude of complex issues that face the County Council?

Others may dismiss this as a simple matter, or even as an unfair attack on Mr. Livesay. I respectfully disagree and have yet to hear of an explanation.

David W. Keelan

Ellicott City

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