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 ( 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]

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].

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] 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


Gary Collins said...

What is your agenda ? What could you, or any other Dearborn County citizen, possibly have to gain by staging this vendetta ? Talk about a witch hunt, I have never witnessed anything like this in my entire life. Do you think anybody gives a shit about this ? It's pretty obvious, that none of the monies received by any of these entities, was used for personal political gains ! So I will ask you once again, WHAT IS YOUR AGENDA?

(comment submitted to the site via e-mail)

??? said...

The question remains:

When did persons such as Negangard and the local GOP leadership and others that supported these candidates know and when did they know that such candidates as Kreinhop and McHenry were in direct violation of the Hatch Act and apart from the federal money at risk, such candidates were also ineligible to run for office in the first place while members of the SCU?

If Thompson, for example, knew that McHenry was in violation he could have contested McHenry's eligibility to run before the election under state statute, but because of common law (court decisions)he could not do so AFTER the election.

There are a lot of unanswered questions pertain to these matters.

??? said...

IC 3-8-1-5
Disqualification of candidates ..."

6) the person is subject to:
(A) 5 U.S.C. 1502 (the Little Hatch Act); or
(B) 5 U.S.C. 7321-7326 (the Hatch Act);
and would violate either federal statute by becoming or remaining the candidate of a political party for nomination or election to an elected office or a political party office.

But see Indiana Supreme Court case, Burke v. Bennett, referenced in this newspaper article:

Which ruled:

Tuesday’s high court decision, written by Justice Brent Dickson, stated that Burke’s challenge to Bennett’s candidacy under the Hatch Act came too late. According to Indiana law, Dickson wrote, a Hatch Act violation can only prevent someone from becoming a candidate for office or remaining a candidate. It does not apply to someone after an election is over since that person is no longer a candidate, the court found.

“Clearly this disqualifier is inapplicable to establish ineligibility in a post-campaign election contest ...."

So the the "REAL" question remains: "What did McHenry's supporters (some of such supporters were past county commissioner attorneys and other elected county attorneys in other capacities) KNOW about his ineligibility and when did they KNOW it?

??? said...

"Do you think anybody gives a shit about this ? It's pretty obvious, that none of the monies received by any of these entities, was used for personal political gains !"

You obviously are just "venting" and have absolutely no understanding of the Hatch Act nor its ramifications as to this county losing federal funding or to the eligibility of candidates running for partisan office who may be covered by the Hatch Act.

Dan Brewington said...

Memo to Gary Collin:

Michael Witte addressed Shane McHenry in his letter to the OSC because he felt Henry's role with the SCU violated the Hatch Act. Witte said he reported Messmore only after he felt that McHenry violated the Hatch Act. Witte failed to mention Mike Kreinhop in his letter to the OSC despite Kreinhop being a member of the SCU for the better part of a year that he was campaigning for Dearborn County Sheriff. Why didn't Witte report Messmore earlier? If federal funding was in jeopardy, why did Witte wait until he felt McHenry was in violation rather that address the situation before there was a violation? The most intriguing question is why do do people like Gary Collins get so offended when people ask questions? I see people asking relevant questions. I didn't see anyone calling for burning people at the stake. Rather than engage themselves in intellectual conversation/debate, some people choose to speak with emotion rather than logical thought, and then try to diffuse the conversation by making pompous statements like, "Do you think anybody gives a s**t about this." Obviously they do, Gary, because the blog's page counter continues to tick.

??? said...

Anyway you look at, if he still desires to run for County Commissioner in the general election, McHenry needs to step down from the SCU because his job is covered by the Hatch Act

If he does not step down from the SCU and his general election opponent contests his employment with his federally funded Hatch Act covered job with the SCU, he would be found ineligible to even run for such office according to Indiana state statute.

If he desires to stay with the SCU even after deciding not to run for commissioner, he still will be faced with some sort of penalty, from suspension without pay for 30 days to outright dismissal from the SCU.

As far as losing all, or in part, the federal funding for the SCU is concerned, that would be up to OSC and the federal agency that awarded such funds.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
??? said...

"Anonymous said...

so dan whom do you want to be commissioner?"

Well ... McHenry will not be a possible choice unless he, McHenry, resigns from the SCU.

And according to the OSC, he, McHenry, cannot JUST take a sabbatical from his employment to run in a partisan election and be able to come back to the SCU.

No "do-overs" for McHenry according to the OSC.

Dan Brewington said...

Response to "Anonymous":
I don't have anything against McHenry. I'm not out to get anyone. Witte is the one who said Messmore and McHenry were violating the Hatch Act. I simply brought Kreinhop into the conversation because he was campaigning for sheriff while he was a member of the SCU. I've never met McHenry and know little about him. I've met Kreinhop and he seems like a professional and likable guy. Being nice has nothing to do with not being able to run for office.

I don't wish anything bad on McHenry or Kreinhop. I've been around politics all my life and have an understanding of how much time and effort goes into a political campaign. I do not believe either of these men had any idea that they may have violated of the Hatch Act before Witte's allegation. Let's remember that Witte is 0 for 1 in his allegations so there is a chance that McHenry and Kreinhop will be cleared as well.

It doesn't matter who I would like to be commissioner. It's about who the voters want and I don't think it's too much to ask to be able to vote for someone without having to worry about losing federal funding. If I were to choose a candidate for commissioner, I'd start off with someone who is allowed to run.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A. Dearborn Citizen said...

Gary Collins said...
"What is your agenda?"

Our agenda is two fold - to bring as much transparency as we are able to the workings of county government and, hopefully as a result of this effort, help create an informed citizenry - the only bulwark able to protect our freedoms and prosperity. Not the agenda you had in mind, I am sure, but there it is.

"It's pretty obvious, that none of the monies received by any of these entities, was used for personal political gains!"

That may be your opinion but consider this. These are LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS BREAKING THE LAW, both federal and state, to pursue political office. One can understand the reluctance to surrender their employment, but that is what the law would require. As for "political gain", they derive political gain, their ability to seek office, indirectly through their personal gain provided by federal largess. It would be intellectually dishonest to say that they have not gained politically. If it were not at minimum an ethics issue and potentially an inherent invitation to corruption, the Hatch Act would not exist.

"What could you, or any other Dearborn County citizen, possibly have to gain"

Ultimately the voters will decide if any of this is important to them, however, let me pose this question. "Why is it that no less than three employees of the Sheriff's office and one from the Prosecutors office hold or are seeking election to powerful county offices?"

Tyranny comes from government, large or small. It may be that such a concentration of political power in such a small pool of individuals will be an unacceptable risk to the voters. Perhaps retaining our liberties is what we have to gain.