Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lugar Wants To Weaken Little Hatch Act

A press release from the office of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar could not be more untimely. Only hours after a federal jury in Indianapolis found a former high-ranking IMPD officer and City-County Councilor, Lincoln Plowman, guilty on bribery and attempted extortion charges, Lugar's office issued a press release announcing his sponsorship of legislation that would weaken the federal Little Hatch Act as applied to law enforcement officials. From Lugar's press release:

Today, Republican Senator Dick Lugar, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), introduced legislation reforming the federal Hatch Act to allow state and local law enforcement officers to run for the Office of Sheriff without having to step down from their job.
“At a time when local law enforcement officers are being called upon to respond to a growing number of criminal, disaster, and homeland security situations, we must ensure that communities have the opportunity to elect the most capable individuals as sheriff,” said Lugar.  “Unfortunately the federal Hatch Act, that is currently applied, often requires capable deputy sheriffs and other officers to leave their current position in order to run for election as sheriff.  The reforms made by our proposal tailor the Hatch Act to the unique situations faced by law enforcement officers.” 
Currently, the federal Hatch Act restricts political activity by state and local employees who have duties in connection with programs financed by federal funds.
The State and Local Law Enforcement Hatch Act Reform Act of 2011 reforms the portion of the federal Hatch Act, as it applies to state and local law enforcement officers.  Because law enforcement agencies at every level of government must coordinate with the federal government for disaster response and homeland security missions and often receive federal funds to do so, many capable officers have been prevented from standing for election as sheriff. 
I've got one simple answer to the law enforcement agencies that want to free up their employees to engage in more political activity during the course of their jobs: Stop taking the federal dollars!

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that this legislation would be offered by Sen. Lugar. He ran one of the most corrupt police agencies in the country when he served as Indianapolis mayor. Anyone who wants to know the real story behind Dick Lugar's years as Indianapolis mayor should read former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dick Cady's book, "Deadline: Indianapolis." It recounts at length the shocking corruption Cady and his fellow reporters uncovered in Lugar's police department.  

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