Chaves County sheriff candidate Britt Snyder is facing a federal Hatch Act inquiry, instigated by an anonymous complainant who has charged that he has violated the federal elections rule.
The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of employees who work with programs financed in whole or part by the federal government.
Sheriff’s office candidates have been targeted frequently by opposing candidates in recent years. Though it has existed since 1939, the rule was [auth] revised in 2012, in a bi-partisan effort to cut down on unfair claims of violations.
Snyder was contacted by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel Friday, less than a week after filing for office.
“I am not paid, in any way, shape or form, by the federal government,” Snyder said Wednesday. “The complaint filed against me, as far as I’m concerned, is a waste of time. They’ll investigate it and clear me. It’s a non-issue.”
The county policy and the Hatch Act policy of campaigning while on duty is the same, Snyder said. He has not, and cannot, use county resources or equipment, he said.
Snyder is one of four candidates for sheriff. Opponents include Patrick Barncastle, lead investigator for the district attorney’s office, Art Fleming, a New Mexico Gas Company employee, and Gary Graves, a former Chaves County Sheriff’s Office deputy and past sheriff of De Baca County who was recalled from office.
Revisions to the Hatch Act, passed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, commended senators for the common sense reform in 2012.
Before the reform, the act too frequently caused the Office of Special Counsel to interfere with the rights of well-qualified candidates to run for local office, according to spokeswoman Ann O’Hanlon.