Political work on the government clock

7
Mar

Political work on the government clock

In Oregon, three former GOP caucus employees are preparing to sue, claiming they were fired because they refused to do political campaign work while employed by the state.

The claims filed with state risk managers by East Wenatchee lawyer Steven Lacy are the first step to lawsuits. Each claim seeks $500,000, but reserves the right to ask for higher damages later.

In each claim, Lacy wrote: “Claimant’s discharge was motivated by his failure to participate in campaign and fundraising activities.”

John Rothlin, chief of staff for the House Republicans, said the claims are baseless. Rothlin said caucus leaders — including House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis — are waiting for an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, which defends the state against claims.

“I’ve read through the claims, and all the assertions in the claims are absolutely without merit,” Rothlin said. “We expect the highest integrity and ethics of our staff. Campaigning on state time or as a requirement of employment with the caucus is simply not permitted.”

The latest tort claims don’t specifically say employees were asked to work for campaigns while on state time, and Lacy said he did not want to try the case in the media by laying out his evidence.

But, he said, based upon his understanding of the ethics code, statutes would have been violated if the employees “had acquiesced” and done the work requested.

In Pennsylvania, state Senator Jane Orie is being retried on ten charges of campaign corrpution and sixteen new charges stemming from allegations that state-paid staffers worked on her campaigns on state time,.

staffer for state Senator Jane Orie testified that

“At least every day, I did 25 percent [political work]. Some days were 100 percent,” Ms. Hope said. “[It was] never less than 25 percent.”

The woman testified that she was required to work election days, and that she traveled from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh to work the polls.

“We didn’t have a choice,” she testified. “The senator said this is what you’re doing on your day off, and that’s what we did.”

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a staffer from the senator’s North Hills district office said she had concerns about the political work but didn’t complain because she feared “that I could lose my job. I did what I was told. I’ve seen many people let go, and I needed my job.”

Unlike some of the other staff members who have testified, Ms. Campbell said she did very little political work.

She worked two election days each year doing campaign work, and she estimated performing a total of 30 hours of additional political work over the six-year period covered by the investigation.

“So, we’re talking about 30 hours over six years?” Mr. Costopoulos asked.

“Yes,” Ms. Campbell answered.

“So, we’re averaging about five hours per year? Or 30 minutes per month?” he continued.

 

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