Former Saline County Board Chairman Jay Williams said he plans to run again for the board in the fall now that the Hatch Act law has been amended.
The Hatch Act was written to prohibit those who received a portion of their salaries from holding partisan political office. That law has been changed to allow those who receive a portion of their salaries to hold office, but still prohibits those who receive 100 percent of their salaries to hold office.
Williams is employed by Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a public information officer and part of his salary is federally funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, but not all.
William asked an attorney with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel who handles Hatch Act complaints if he is again eligible to run and learned he is.
Williams received the following guidance from Hatch Act Unit Attorney Carolyn S. Martorana on Jan. 24.
“The Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§1501-1508, governs the political activity of certain state and local government employees in order to protect the public workforce from partisan political influence and ensure the nonpartisan administration of laws. Among other things, the Act prohibits some state and local government employees from being candidates for public office in partisan elections. 5 U.S.C. § 1502(a)(3). Recently, Congress passed the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, which narrows the group of employees subject to the candidacy prohibition. See Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-230, § 2, 126 Stat. 1616, 1616 (amending 5 U.S.C. § 1502(a)(3)). Effective January 27, 2013, only those employees whose salaries are paid entirely with federal funds will be prohibited from
being candidates for partisan public office. Id.
“According to your supervisor, David Cassens, your salary is partially, but not entirely, federally funded. Therefore, as of January 27, 2013, the Hatch Act would not prohibit you from being a candidate in a partisan election.”
The correspondence notes the amended Hatch Act also prohibits Williams from using his official authority or influence to affect the results of an election and from coercing or attempting to coerce, commanding, or advising another employee to engage in political activity. That means he could not tell other employees to volunteer for a political campaign, give a campaign contribution or ask subordinate employees to engage in political activity in support of or opposition to a candidate for partisan political office.
“I’m kind of happy about that. I just got the call. I’m happy I can run again,” Williams said.
“My intention is to pick up in the fall and run in the spring.”
Williams was enthusiastic during a phone interview in late January.
“Those were two of the best years I’ve had as chairman of the board. I’m going to run again if the people will elect me,” he said.