Monday, June 07, 2010
Another Candidate Referred to the OSC for Possible Hatch Act Violation
Note: The author makes reference to a posting on this site with some reservations as to it's accuracy. The images to the right are included to establish the accuracy of earlier postings on this web log. They were extracted from the flyer for the Lincoln day event which contained the ad at the bottom of the image. This image has been altered for inclusion within the available space - original scan image available on request.
June 4, 2010
Ms. Carolyn S. Martorana
Attorney, Hatch Act Unit
U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W. Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036
Re: Dearborn County, Indiana/Hatch Act
Dear Ms. Martorana:
As a casual observer, it has come to my attention that G. Michael Witte, County Attorney for the Dearborn County Board of Commissioners, overlooked another potential violation of the Hatch Act. Mr. Witte’s self reporting letter failed to notify the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that Dearborn County Sheriff candidate, Mike Kreinhop, may also be in violation of the Hatch Act.
The additional purported non-compliance scenario is outlined below. I ask for the Office of Special Counsel to conduct inquiries and/or issue advisory opinions.
I. 2009 Recovery Act JAG Subgrantee, Grant #09-JRA-005, $174,673.00
2009 Recovery Act Edward Byrne JAG, Award #2009-SB-B9-0261, $57,951.00
2009 Edward Byrne JAG , Application #2009-H1473-DJ, $14,372.00
Recipient: Dearborn County Government
Beneficiary: Dearborn-Ohio Counties Prosecutor’s Office Special Crimes Unit
Hatch Act Employee: Mike Kreinhop, (now) Former Detective for Dearborn-Ohio Counties Prosecutor’s Office Special Crimes Unit
Mr. Witte’s May 17, 2010 letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel laid out the following about Dearborn County Commissioner candidate, Shane McHenry:
“In January of 2006, the Dearborn-Ohio Counties Prosecutor’s Office in conjunction with the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department, the Lawrenceburg Police Department, and the Aurora Police Department formed a multi-jurisdictional task force to address serious felony crimes in Dearborn County, Indiana. Operating under the name of the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit (SCU), it is comprised of three detectives from the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department, one detective from the Lawrenceburg Police Department, one detective from the Aurora Police Department, and two investigators from the Dearborn-Ohio Counties Prosecutor’s Office.
Detective Shane McHenry is one of the three detectives of the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department assigned to this SCU. Although his pay is routed through the Sheriff’s Department, he is assigned to the SCU and is viewed by many as the lead detective for the unit.
Mr. McHenry was a candidate in the May 4, 2010 Republican primary election for the office of Dearborn County Commissioner. Mr. McHenry won the election over two other candidates, a Mr. Thompson and a Mr. Rowland. He is now the Republican candidate for County Commissioner in the fall election. During this election process, Mr. McHenry was a full-time employee of the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office assigned to the SCU which was funded by at least $246,996.00 in federal grant money. Mr. McHenry continues to work for the SCU and act as the Republican candidate for County Commissioner for the November 2, 2010 general election. His campaign material referenced himself as a “Detective for … Special Crimes Unit”. He is a local officer or employee whose principal employment is in connection with an activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or Federal agency.”
The website of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (http://www.osc.gov/haStateLocalfaq.htm) states the following:
If my candidacy is found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, can I relinquish the duties that cause me to be covered by the Hatch Act, and thus negate my violation?
Answer: No. A person is in violation of the Hatch Act when, at the time he engaged in prohibited conduct, he was covered by the Hatch Act. It has been held that candidacy begins when preliminary steps are taken to establish a candidacy, not just when a formal announcement is made. For example, canvassing voters, polling for name recognition, or meeting with campaign managers are preliminary steps taken that would be viewed as candidacy for purposes of the Hatch Act (even if a formal candidacy is not declared). If such steps are taken by someone who is covered by the Hatch Act, a violation of the Act will have occurred. A change in duties at a later time will not negate the already existing violation.
Though it appears that Mike Kreinhop resigned from his position with the SCU prior to registering to run for Dearborn County Sheriff, Mr. Kreinhop began campaigning for his election bid long before his resignation from the SCU. On March 12, 2009, the Dearborn County Public Blog posted the program information from the February 27, 2009, “Lincoln Day Dinner” which was hosted by the Dearborn County Republican Party. Appearing under the section titled “Other ads attached” were a series of advertisements from businesses and politicians including an ad stating, “Mike Kreinhop, Investigator Special Crimes Unit- for Sheriff.” [See http://dearborncounty.blogspot.com/2009/03/lincoln-day-dinner-program-info.html]
I am not a lawyer nor am I versed in legislation pertaining to the Hatch Act but G. Michael Witte made the argument that members of the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit are subject to the Hatch Act. Although Mr. Kreinhop may not have been a member of the SCU when he officially registered as a candidate for Dearborn County Sheriff, Mr. Kreinhop used his position with the SCU in advertising for his election bid prior to his resignation. As of October 8, 2009, Mike Kreinhop still identified himself as a detective with the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit [Go to the following link for more information on the timeframe of Mike Kreinhop’s role with the SCU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es-rsxCI9gg].
It concerns me as to why County Attorney G. Michael Witte failed to include Mike Kreinhop in his letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel especially as it appears that Mr. Witte unilaterally decided to take this action before informing the members of the Dearborn County Board of Commissioners about the situation. I question how and when Mr. Witte discovered the alleged violations of the Hatch Act and what motivated Mr. Witte to express his concerns. The minutes from the May 17, 2010 Dearborn County Commissioners’ meeting [See http://dearborncounty.blogspot.com/2010/05/17-may-2010-dearborn-county.html] indicate that Mr. Witte felt that Brian Messmore was in violation of the Hatch Act but failed to report it until Mr. Witte felt that Mr. McHenry violated the act as well. It is worthy to note that Mr. McHenry endorsed Mr. Witte’s opponent during Mr. Witte’s failed attempt to retain his position as Dearborn Superior Court Judge in the 2008 election. Mr. Witte even made the argument that Shane McHenry “is viewed by many as the lead detective for the unit.” As a lawyer and someone who has served multiple terms as a judge in the Dearborn Superior Court, Mr. Witte is fully aware that his opinion about the public’s perception of Mr. McHenry’s “perceived” role with the SCU is irrelevant if Mr. McHenry never claimed to be the “lead detective for the unit.” Mr. Witte’s statements suggest that Mr. Witte was not just notifying the OSC about a potential Hatch violation, but Mr. Witte was attempting to build a case against Shane McHenry by including irrelevant information about Mr. Witte’s perception of what public perception may be. As “reasonable minds” may believe Mr. Witte’s actions may be self-serving and/or give the appearance of retaliation against Mr. McHenry, I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.
Please note that a portion of the above information is based on the assumption that the information maintained by the administrator of the Dearborn County Public Forum is accurate. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Daniel P. Brewington
Posted by A. Dearborn Citizen at 10:04 PM