(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office detective will be allowed to run for County Commissioner following a much-anticipated letter from federal officials.
Dearborn County District
candidate Shane McHenry
has been cleared of any
potential Hatch Act violation.
Shane McHenry was tagged as a possible violator of the Hatch Act – a federal law which prohibits political activity by state, county, or municipal employees who performs duties financed by federal funds.
In a three-page letter sent Monday, the federal Office of Special Counsel advised McHenry that he is not a violation and may continue to run for District Three Commissioner in November.
“OSC understands as a part of this assignment, you often work with personnel from other agencies, but you remain under the command of and are paid for by the Sheriff’s Office,” the letter read.
“Turning to federal funding, the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office does not receive any direct federal grants or loans.”
The letter continued to address McHenry’s separation from three federal grants received by the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit, which McHenry is assigned to by the sheriff’s office. Those grants are an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, an ARRA Byrne grant directly from the DOJ and Office of Justice Programs, and a Byrne grant directly from the DOJ OJP.
“Further, you have no involvement in the application for or administration of any federal grants for either the Sheriff’s Office or the SCU, and you do not supervise anyone who performs such duties,” the OSC’s letter said.
The OSC response did point out one argument that could be made for a Hatch Act violation because the Special Crimes Unit’s coordinator, administrative assistant, and part-time deputy prosecutor play an important role in the operations of the crimes unit, a detective assigned to the unit would have duties in connection with federally financed activities.
“However, we find that your employment ‘can more accurately be said to be in association with such activities,’” the OSC wrote McHenry.
McHenry’s potential violation along with that of County Councilman Bryan Messmore was reported to the OSC by former County Attorney Michael Witte. The former judge dropped the bombshell during the May 17 commissioners’ meeting where he also announced his resignation as county attorney.
“In my previous press release regarding the potential violation, I stated that I didn't feel that I was in violation and I couldn't be happier with the decision of the Office of Special Counsel,” McHenry wrote in an e-mail to Eagle 99.3 Monday. “Although I was disappointed in the way the situation was handled, I am glad that we can put this issue to rest and move forward with my candidacy.”
Messmore was also cleared of any Hatch Act violation by the OSC in June.
After a landslide defeat of incumbent District Three Commissioner Ralph Thompson in the May 5 primary, McHenry was previously unopposed. However, Jim Schuler was selected as the Democrat candidate for District 3 by the Dearborn County Democrat Party in a June caucus.
“I ran for political office to restore integrity to county government and now that I have been cleared of the potential Hatch Act Violation, I look forward to continuing my goal of removing the negativity used by some that are more concerned about themselves than the people they represent,” said McHenry.