News Politics — 08 March 2011
Feds clear Hughes of defying Hatch Act

City Councilwoman Alicia Hughes did not violate the Hatch Act when running for office in 2009, but it was no open and shut case, according to the Office of Special Counsel.

As an employee at the Patent and Trademark Office, Hughes is subject to the Hatch Act, which governs political activities of federal employees. She ran as an Independent but an unnamed person claimed Hughes campaign lost neutrality when the local Republican Party endorsed her.

I am glad that its over, Hughes said. In my mind, there was a never was a case you either violate the act or you dont. 

Hughes benefited by Republican campaigning, according to Carolyn S. Martorana, a Hatch Act attorney with the OSC. The Alexandria Republican City Committee aided her with phone calls, door-knocking, a paid ad, three mailings and election day volunteers, Martorana wrote to Hughes in a letter obtained by the Times. 

Hughes was aware of the help but did not solicit it, according to Martoranas decision. 

Based on the above, OSC has insufficient evidence to conclude that your candidacy lost independence, she stated. Note, however, that this case was a close call.

Hughes must avoid acting in concert wht the ARCC or any other partisan organization in the future, Martorana stated.

Most federal workers are banned from running in a partisan election at all, but Alexandria is exempt, according to the OSC.

Hughes battled ineligibility claims prior to her election, when Democrats alleged owning a house in Baltimore disqualified her from running. She has spent significant money on attorneys for the debunked charges, she said.

I did not break the law and Ive gotten tired of people doing things that require a defense, Hughes said.

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Alexandria Times Staff

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