The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating Councilwoman Alicia Hughes (I) for possible Hatch Act violations.
While federal authorities wont confirm or deny the investigation, an attorney with the Office of Special Counsel contacted the Times Monday requesting information about Hughes. Enacted in 1939, the legislation limits federal employees from participating in partisan political activity, like running for office.
An existing exemption for Alexandria in the Hatch Act allows federal employees to seek local elected offices as long as they run as independents.
Hughes, an employee of the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office, did not know of the investigation and said she was not aware of violating any of the Hatch Act provisions, including engaging in political activities while on duty.
As far as I know I have not violated anything, but I cannot speak to any specific allegations, she said. Anyone can make an allegation and they can make it at any time thats the right of every citizen and if these allegations are made, the Office of Special Counsel has a duty to do due diligence and I would presume that is what they are doing, but anyone can make an allegation, thats just the way it is.
On Tuesday, Hughes released a statement noting allegations have been made against her in the past. In 2009, residents with ties to the Democratic party charged Hughes was ineligible to vote or run for elected office in Alexandria based on tax records showing she owned property in Baltimore.
Hughes was ultimately cleared of those charges.
“Unfortunately, a number of allegations and investigations have been launched against me since my election in May 2009 by persons more interested in politics than public service and people of varying persuasions (including political parties) working together to perfect One Alexandria,” she said in her statement.
Hughes ran for City Council as an Independent last year but was backed by factions like the Alexandria Republican City Committee. Her photograph and name appear on the ARCC website under the heading On Council, below Republican Councilman Frank Fannon and above a photo President Ronald Regan.
Office of Special Counsel spokesman Darshan Sheth said once a complaint is filed, authorities begin investigating the allegations. If the accused has violated the Hatch Act, they would be required to resign from their position or withdraw from an election, he said.