The separation between political party and political office

When I circulate petitions- I can’t walk through City Hall and hit every desk along the way as former Mayor Richard Clay Dixon used to do. I also can’t circulate my petition inside priority board offices, at the RTA transit hub or on city property as I’ve been told.

Yet- we have our current elected officials having friends and family circulate petitions for themselves and others in their offices routinely. We have Willis Blackshear, the County treasurer circulating petitions for Dean Lovelace, we have City Commissioner Nan Whaley circulating petitions for Matt Joseph and we have Mark Owens doing it for Nan.

Only one problem- the State passed a law in 1998 that said once you are elected- you can’t be taking part in party politics.

They just figured it out in Cuyahoga County:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Nearly 70 Cuyahoga County employees have notified Executive Ed FitzGerald that they hold partisan positions, many in violation of state law.

Most are rank-and-file workers who also serve as members of Democratic precinct and executive committees, groups that help get their party’s candidates elected. Four are council members in suburbs with partisan elections.

In a memo last month, FitzGerald told employees to declare party offices by Feb. 4. The executive said civil service employees will have to choose between party politics and their jobs. He and the County Council members said they intend to enforce a 1998 state law that forbids civil service workers from holding partisan positions.

via Cuyahoga County employees declare partisan positions, forcing decision between job, politics | cleveland.com.

So, shall we begin with Rhine McLin serving as vp of the Dem party while being Mayor, or Karl Keith as VP while being auditor? Or Mark Owens while Clerk of Courts as Chair of the Democratic Party? Pick or choose- serve the party- or serve the people.

Here is the complete text of the law:

* PERSONNEL

124.57 Prohibition against partisan political activity.

(A) No officer or employee in the classified service of the state, the several counties, cities, and city school districts of the state, or the civil service townships of the state shall directly or indirectly, orally or by letter, solicit or receive, or be in any manner concerned in soliciting or receiving, any assessment, subscription, or contribution for any political party or for any candidate for public office; nor shall any person solicit directly or indirectly, orally or by letter, or be in any manner concerned in soliciting, any such assessment, contribution, or payment from any officer or employee in the classified service of the state , the several counties, cities, or city school districts of the state, or the civil service townships of the state; nor shall any officer or employee in the classified service of the state, the several counties, cities, and city school districts of the state, or the civil service townships of the state be an officer in any political organization or take part in politics other than to vote as the officer or employee pleases and to express freely political opinions.

(B)(1) Nothing in division (A) of this section prohibits an officer or employee described in that division from serving as a precinct election official under section 3501.22 of the Revised Code.

(2) Nothing in division (A) of this section prohibits an employee of the Ohio cooperative extension service whose position is transferred from the unclassified civil service to the classified civil service and who also holds the office of president of a city legislative authority from completing the existing term of office as president.

Effective Date: 09-16-1998; 05-07-2004

via Lawriter – ORC – 124.57 Prohibition against partisan political activity..

The real conflict of course comes when the Board of Elections is in charge of approving candidates petitions. Since the BOE directors are all picked by the political parties- not by the people who they are supposed to serve- the people, that the favorite candidates always get on the ballot- and the, how shall we say it- opposition candidates, don’t.

Can we have a ruling please?

It’s time the people on the public payroll stopped having two masters.

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5 Responses

  1. Gary March 17, 2011 / 4:45 am
    So then- how are these candidates getting away with violating state law?  Since 1998?  Maybe they are petitioning for State lawmakers, too!  I don’t get it–why haven’t they been caught (the ones mentioned in the post)?

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  2. DW March 17, 2011 / 12:05 pm
    They get around circulating petitions at work by having employees sign them at after work locations. The board of elections has been known to make its staff pre-check party petitions during their lunch hours (which are paid) which a non-democrat or republican would never have access to. The board of elections directors are paid big money to keep all of this quiet by intimidating their staff. If the general public knew that the democrat director singed off on hiring a sex offender and the republican director hired and gives raises to an employee in charge of the absentee ballots in the county that has a shady criminal past I think they would lose their jobs. They get away with it by blaming a supervisor and handing out a suspension to an employee who will later be rewarded with a raise and bonus from our tax dollars.

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  3. Brian March 23, 2011 / 2:10 pm
    I just need some clarification here, just to be sure I understand. A civil servant cannot take part in or serve in a partisan postion while in office, or they simply can’t serve in one. For example, democrat in office can go to a democratic fundraiser but they cannot be on a committe that organized it, is that the general idea?

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  4. David Esrati March 23, 2011 / 3:07 pm

    @Brian- as far as I understand, you can’t serve in a partisan position while on the government payroll. Once you work for the people- you can’t work for the party too.

    You can go to the fundraiser- and donate- but, you can’t run it.

    But- then again- that would make sense- and be logical- so it’s probably got some loopholes etc.

     

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  5. Brian March 23, 2011 / 3:27 pm
    seems simple enough to me, and I can only imagine there are a dozen ways to get around it. Thanks.

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