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Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas. I rise in support of S. 2170, the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012. I'd also like to thank and commend Ranking Member Cummings and his work with Chairman Issa for bringing this bill to the floor on a bipartisan and a bicameral basis.

I also want to commend Senator Mike Lee for his tireless work on this, his concern, particularly on what happened in Utah, and his good work with Senator Akaka. The bill wouldn't be here today without their good work, and I commend them both for working, again, in a bipartisan way.

I am also a proud cosponsor of H.R. 4152, sponsored by Ranking Member Cummings--I'm glad to come together with him--which is the House companion to S. 2170. S. 2170 makes commonsense, long overdue reforms to the Hatch Act, which became law nearly 75 years ago. While the numerous reforms this legislation includes are all important, I'd like to highlight the critical reform made by section 2 of this bill.

In May of this year, the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Federal workforce held a hearing where members heard of the ongoing problems with the Hatch Act and options for reform. At the hearing, the subcommittee heard from my fellow Utahn Jon Greiner, an individual whose experience with the Hatch Act has become far too common and is the reason why we're here today.

In 2006, Mr. Greiner, while serving as the chief of the Ogden City Utah Police Department, was elected to the Utah State Senate. While this occasion would presumably be joyous, unfortunately for Chief Greiner, it was the beginning of a 5-year legal battle with the Federal entities charged with the enforcing of the Hatch Act. At the end of the long and costly legal battle, Chief Greiner was ultimately found by these Federal entities to have violated the Hatch Act in December 2011. Chief Greiner was not only fired by Ogden City for his violation, but was also banned by the Federal Government from serving as a law enforcement officer in Utah for 18 months.

And what did Chief Greiner do to deserve such punishment? He simply signed a required quarterly report for a Federal technology grant awarded to upgrade the Weber and Morgan County, Utah, emergency dispatch center--a Federal grant that didn't even directly benefit the Ogden City Police Department but, instead, was designed to enhance the dispatch capabilities for the entire county. Chief Greiner didn't receive a cent of the money in his paycheck nor did his department. He was simply the department and city's point of contact after one pen stroke ended an exemplary career of nearly four decades of distinguished public service.

Thankfully, Mr. Speaker, section 2 of S. 2170 will now make it possible for State and local public servants whose job is connected to Federal funding to be able to run for office--while still preventing those who are paid completely by the Federal Government from running for office.

Sadly, Mr. Speaker, Chief Greiner's Hatch Act violation, while absurd, has occurred all over the country. I'm happy to say, after this legislation is passed, it should never, ever happen again. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation.

Again, I thank Chairman Issa for making this happen and for the work of Ranking Member Cummings.

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