In a previous post, I included a picture from the city’s Facebook page that included a link to Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim’s campaign page. As it turns out, that was not an anomaly. In fact, the city’s Facebook page includes other incidents in which a link to Kim’s campaign page appeared. On one of the Facebook pages, there is a link to Commissioner Sanghvi’s campaign site as well.
It is improper to utilize the resources of taxpayer-supported organizations to further the political activities of an employee or public officer.
The Facebook Pages
A Violation of the Federal Hatch Act?
The Hatch Act is a federal law that prohibits “Using official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of a nomination or election to public office.”
According to the website of the United States Office of Special Counsel, “frequently asked questions.”
Can a state, D.C., or local employee be covered by the Hatch Act even if his/her salary is not federally funded?
Yes, on questions of coercion or use of official authority (but not on the candidacy prohibition).
The Merit Systems Protection Board has held that the test of whether an employee is covered by the Hatch Act is whether, as a normal and foreseeable incident of his principal employment, the employee performs duties in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal funds. Special Counsel v. Gallagher, 44 M.S.P.R. 57, 61 (1990). If an employee meets this standard, the source of the employee’s salary is irrelevant. See Special Counsel v. Williams, 56 M.S.P.R. 277, 283-84 (1993), aff’d, Williams v. M.S.P.B., 55 F.3d 917 (4th Cir. 1995).
I am not a lawyer, but my reading of the act is that Mayor Kim and Commissioner Sanghvi are subject to it, given the federal funds the city receives.
The question remains, who put these links up, and what role if any, did Mayor Kim and Commissioner Sanghvi play in facilitating this?
One thought on “Did Mayor Ron Kim and Commissioner Minita Sanghvi Violate the Federal Hatch Act?”
In 2023 there’s no excuse for a politician not having a basic understanding of social media, and how they can’t mix fundraising (which belongs on their personal or campaign page) with their elected office profile, let along the official municipality page. I’m not a FOIL expert myself, but I would be VERY interested to see what emails led to these postings.
Add this to the growing list of “Things that show the mayor is the wrong person for the job”.
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