Danner requests review
Commissioner sends letter asking for Hatch Act clarification
March 16, 2010
Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said Monday that she has requested a review from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel regarding her candidacy for another term as District 2 commissioner.
"Responding to these questions and comments in a very open and timely manner is one way I can show the community that I will be truthful and responsive to the law," she said.
Danner sent a letter to the OSC on Friday after questions and comments from the community surfaced about her candidacy and possible violations of the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act is a federal law, which restricts political activity of people employed by state or local agencies who work in connection with programs financed in some part by federal money, among other restrictions.
John Ponikvar, Moffat County Republican Central Committee chairman, has criticized Danner for her role in the recent surfacing of the Hatch Act locally.
The act has affected two candidates: K.C. Hume dropped out of the race for county coroner, and Lila Herod was forced to resign from her job as the county's chief deputy clerk and elections supervisor so she could remain eligible to run for county clerk and recorder.
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Ponikvar said Danner swayed the election by providing those candidates with Hatch Act information. He also called for Danner to step away from her bid for another commission term.
In her letter to the OSC, Danner requested clarification to learn whether her actions could be considered a violation.
"After hearing other questions from community members, I decided to ask the OSC," she said. "I wanted to put the rumors to rest."
Danner said she "did not intend to do wrong, but I am clarifying that."
Danner also asked in her letter to OSC about her previous position as executive director of Yampa Valley Partners from 1996 to 2008.
Danner said she did not receive or oversee any federal grant money as part of her duties with the organization.
The grants she oversaw were private grants, and would not fall under the Hatch Act, she said.
She also corresponded with the OSC through e-mail Friday about her candidacy and the Hatch Act as it relates to her being an appointed official.
Danner was appointed to the county commission in 2008, taking over for the late Saed Tayyara, who died while in office.
Attorney J.M. Martell, of the OSC's Hatch Act Unit, wrote Danner explaining that she is not prohibited from running for office because she was appointed.
"Even if you are covered by the Hatch Act, you are not prohibited from being a candidate for elective office if the position that caused you to be covered in the first place is an elective office," he wrote in an e-mail. "This is true even if you were originally appointed to the elected office."
Danner said seeking clarification from OSC regarding her candidacy falls in line with her desire to maintain open and clear communications with constituents.
"I am willing to communicate with citizens," she said. "All they have to do is talk to me."
Danner said she does not know when she will receive a reply from the OSC.
Regardless of the outcome, Danner said she will honor OSC's recommendation, even if it means dropping her commission candidacy.
Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.