Babeu Refuses to Join In Enforcing Federal Law -

Babeu Refuses to Join In Enforcing Federal Law

Sgt. Chris Lapre
Babeu Refuses to Join In Enforcing Federal Law

Dear Editor,

Last week, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that asked our county constitutionally elected officials to enforce the Hatch Act with their employees as we enter this election season.

The resolution passed by a two to one vote.  Chairman Rios and Supervisor David Snider voted aye and Supervisor Bryan Martyn voted no.

This “Resign to Run” resolution is really nothing new to Pinal County employees. This Board, as well as past Boards of Supervisors have always insisted that county employees abide by the provisions of the Hatch Act.

The original Hatch Act was enacted by the Federal Government in the 1930’s to prevent any federal official using their influence to gain or disburse favors while they seek elected office.

The State of Arizona has passed a similar law under Revised Statutes §41-772.

Pinal County Policy and Procedures 1.30.A, makes it clear that public employees are prohibited from being candidates for nomination or election to any paid, partisan public office, or from taking any part in the management of any political campaign or recall effort. When performing their duties on behalf of Pinal County, employees must refrain from political activity while on duty or at public expense.

This resolution was not targeting any county employee. This resolution is basically a reiteration of our county policy and procedures and we simply asked our elected officials to follow our lead.

My personal thought is that the resolution is very sound public policy.

Many, if not all, elected officials are recipients of federal dollars in the way of grants or other funds. Any violation of the Hatch Act gives the federal government the means to come to Pinal County and ask us to forfeit those needed funds. In other words, Pinal County Policy and Procedures 1.30.A protects Pinal County residents and ensures that our employees are following the letter of the law.

I am pleased to note that nearly every elected official in Pinal County is on board keeping their employees within the law by asking them to follow our policies and procedures.

I find it puzzling that Sheriff Paul Babeu will not sign on to this resolution that would ensure that his employees follow county policy. If there were a violation of the Hatch Act, his department would have a lot to lose when it comes to federal money.  The Sheriff's Office is currently under investigation on this very point by multiple agencies.  The investigations involve Cheryl Chase, a candidate for Supervisor, Steve Henry, another Sheriff's employee exploring a run for Sheriff and others in Babeu's Office. Why would Sheriff Babeu want to jeopardize vital public safety funding by not insisting his employees follow federal law?

Sheriff Babeu has indicated that he has obtained an opinion that his staff is not subject to the prior or newly adopted county policy.  If litigation is brought upon us, I will be on record with this letter as someone opposed to the use of any taxpayer funds for legal fees.

We have already seen one valuable county employee voluntarily retire in order to seek the office of County Recorder in this election. Barbara Kelly did the right thing by ending her employment with Pinal County in order to comply with our Policies and Procedures.

It is vitally important that you as a resident of this great county are served by employees who are doing their job within the boundaries of the law and to the best of their abilities.