Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, July 9, 2012

Is Hatch Act complaint against Mapp harassment?

Council President Adrian Mapp is subject of Hatch Act complaint
filed by defeated Council candidate Abdul-Haqq.

Though defeated Plainfield City Council Ward 3 candidate Rasheed Abdul-Haqq's name is on the complaint, word in the street is that the motivating force behind the Hatch Act complaint lodged against successful candidate Council President Adrian Mapp is none other than Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

Robinson-Briggs, who is openly preparing to run for an unprecedented third term even without Democratic party backing, has been at swords' points with the Councilor ever since her last mayoral campaign.

Courier News reporter Sergio Bichao took up the tale in a story dated July 4 (see here), citing the language of Abdul-Haqq's complaint --

“It is my belief that Mr. Mapp has caused the democratic process in Plainfield to be undermined and delegitimized due to his illegal candidacy,” Abdul-Haqq says in the complaint, a copy of which he provided to the Courier News.
Such over-the-top language is a dead giveaway that what is going on here is harassment and not a legitimate complaint. The point was recently underscored in an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune (see here), saying 'there ... is consensus that political opponents use the Hatch Act to harass legitimate candidates for local and state offices'.

The Hatch Act of 1939 was aimed at stopping employees of the federal executive branch from interfering with or attempting to influence federal elections. Only over time were its provisions extended to cover non-federal employees and non-federal elections (see the history of the Hatch Act here).

There is a general bipartisan consensus that enforcement of the act at the local level is overbearing and misguided and legislation is pending in Congress to reform the act (which Bichao duly points out), freeing local candidates whose jobs may involve being paid by or administering federal funds from the Act's restrictions (see a Washington Post story on the bill here). It is no small irony that the Office of Special Counsel, which is charged with enforcing the Act, is actively promoting the proposed changes to the law, a circumstance which Bichao reports.

As for the Mapp case, Councilor Mapp tells me that he was in touch with the Office of Special Counsel in advance of the spring primary, asking for an opinion and ruling on whether he is covered by the Act. Hardly a tactic one would expect if a candidate intended to 'undermine' and 'delegitimize' the democratic process with an 'illegal candidacy'.

In fact, as reader Michael J. pointed out, it appears that the Act exempts someone ALREADY HOLDING ELECTIVE OFFICE (as Mapp does) from the prohibition against running.

Reader Joyce P., who happens to be an attorney, points out that Mapp is not a federal employee and was not hired through the Federal Civil Service program and therefore ought to be outside the scope of the Act.

In any event, Mapp has been thoroughly above-board in his handling of his employment status and candidacy, as Abdul-Haqq or Robinson-Briggs could have ascertained at the time of the campaign if they had asked.

In an unfortunate lapse from his usually high standards of reporting, Bichao dulls the story's end by dragging in an unmerited mention of an entirely unrelated matter, Mapp's former employment as the Borough of Roselle's chief financial officer. Where were the editors and their blue pencils?

Meanwhile, whatever the outcome it won't be of any benefit to Abdul-Haqq, who decisively lost the primary. As for Mayor Robinson-Briggs, her turn is coming.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


Bob said...

Shady Sharonda strikes again and her lowness once again shows that she is not a Christian, which she professes so much, and Mr. Adbul-Haqq is the dullard he is, but allowing his name to be dragged through the mud by the Cambells and now our soon-to-be ex-mayor. Mr. Abdul-Haqq, get some morals and try to be the upstanding man we thought you were at one time.

Anonymous said...

Is there no end to the sleezy behaviour of elected officials and sore losers of this city....makes one nauseous to think these egoists control and waste our hardearned tax dollars.........

Anonymous said...

I would agree with the Hatch Act if there were obvious conflicts of interest between their federal position and that of the local position which they were seeking. I just don't see what the coflict is aside from the obvious conflict that the Myor has with Mr. Mapp

Anonymous said...

I think it's more likely that the force behind this move is the Campbells, not the mayor. I'm not sure she's bright enough to figure out a game like this.

Anonymous said...

Your Horrible will not be gone soon enough. One more year? Wow . . . that's seems like a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I’m not surprised in Haaq or Sharon; it’s what I expect them to do. It’s sad when you do not lose with grace and dignity. As for Sharon, does anyone know how much money she has raised so far? Is Haaq supported by any other people in Plainfield? Oh well the clock is ticking on Sharon.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens to a City that chooses to elect a democrat over a republican. How's that working for you Plainfielders?

This is exactly WHAT YOU WANT. And you have it.

Pat yourselves on the back.

Anonymous said...

You have just as many if not more crooked Republicans as Dems, I vote according to who is knowledeable of the issues and has a feasible plan to resolve them. They all come out and promise you the world to get elected, then sit back and do nothing, well that's not completely true, I think the Reps take ALL you have and the Dems might leave you a little to live on. You evidently wanted BUSH but at least he was fair, he screwed you over just as well as the rest of us. So you vote the way you like and try to remember that SRB is a snake period, she would just be a bigger snake if she was REPS.