Friday, January 20, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Weber Sheriff (Allegedly) Violated Hatch Act

Keeping our fingers crossed that the Standard will be more cautious with its future headline draftsmanship

Interesting story plastered atop the front page of this morning's Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition, bearing the bold-faced headline "Weber sheriff violated act." Unlike the Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner situation however, Sheriff Terry Thompson's case will apparently have will no negative consequences, as is briefly set forth in this morning story's lead paragraph:
OGDEN -- The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has determined that Terry Thompson violated the Hatch Act in his successful 2010 bid for Weber County Sheriff, but the office won't take action against him.
Read Mr. Schwebke's full Standard-Examiner writeup here:
Here's one point we'll make with regard to this story.

We're troubled by the nature of the headline itself. Although the Office of Special Counsel has been involved in this matter since at least as early as May of last year, that federal agency, which is charged with the civil prosecution of Hatch Act violations, appears to have taken no formal action in this matter, aside from the issuance of the "warning letter" which is mentioned in this morning's Scott Schwebke story. Since this matter has never been formally adjudicated, the headline states as fact something which ought to have been characterized as a mere allegation. The opinion of the Office of Special Council that Sheriff Thompson violated the Hatch Act is no more than that office's legal opinion, an opinion which carries no more weight than Sheriff Thompson's own opinion that he did not violate the Act. So in our view, it's disappointing that the copy editor who drafted the headline wasn't more careful with that most important distinction.

Although we're delighted to learn that the Office of Special Counsel has exercised sound prosecutorial discretion and declined to take any further action in re this matter, we're nevertheless keeping our fingers crossed that the Standard will be more cautious in its technical draftsmanship and take steps to avoid in the future the kind of factually inaccurate, and reputationally damaging headlines such as the one appearing above this morning's story.

Referring back to our original assumption that Defendant Stewert will at some point be represented on the taxpayers' dime by Weber County Public Defenders? Yes. News reports indicate Stewart has a small equity in his residential property which he purchsed in the nineties. No, that small equity will not for long support a vigorous defense in this complex case, which involves multiple purported victims, and will require massive investigative effort and discovery. Whatever property equity Stewart may have to contribute to his own defense will be rapidly, blown, quickly.

Like it or not, Gentle Weber County taxpayers, ultimately, even though prosecution and defense counsel will sit at tables on opposite sides of the courtroom as this matter progresses, the massive expense of this whole trial will be borne by the folks who'll ultimately pick up the tab for this legal extravaganza... the taxpayers of Weber County, that's who.


Krey73 said...

There's no "allegedly" about it.  The complaint was filed a year and a half ago in June of 2010 and the investigation, which recently concluded, found that his management position put him in violation of the Hatch act.
Thompson's response to the complaint in an article in October 2010 wasn't that he hadn't violated the act, it was, "The federal government has no business telling a state or local candidate they can't run."
He runs his office the same way, which is why they are having so many problems. 
Thompson isn't "allegedly" having federal problems, he IS having federal problems and he was proven to be in violation of the Hatch Act.  He just isn't getting a trial.
Call the OSC at (800) 872-9855 if you'd like to see him get a trial and prove his "innocence".  :D  Do him a favor and let him clear his name...

Down WithTyranny said...

Too Crazy.  Apparently there are at least a few politically partisan people who don't understand the America standard presumption, which is "innocent until proven guilty."

Is that you, Officer Haws?

We definitely dodged a bullet when Weber County voters vetoed YOUR canaidacy.

Lie Much? said...

"...he was proven to be in violation of the Hatch Act."

Thompsom was proven of now such thing.

Has there been any formal administartive or judicial decision on this?


Face it, Krey73.  You're a liar.

Jamosnatang said...

That's because he's a crooked motha^&?$%

Kevin said...

Lie Much ... I think you are full of ... it.  The OSC found him in violation.  It is like if someone got stopped for speeding. The police can give them a ticket or a warning and send them on there way. If they get a ticket then they can plead not guilty and a judge has to decide the matter.  If they get a warning for the violation, which Thompson got, they are still in violation, but nothing happens too them.  He is in violation and ... he knows it. He has known it since the sheriff's minutes from March 2010 when it said both Thompson and Haycock are in violation. Thompson was even in the meeting.

Wrong said...

With all due respect, Kevin, you're just plain wrong about this.  At this stage of the proceeding, Thompson has merely been "accused" by OSC bureaucrats (lawyers) of having violated the Hatch Act. As such there has been no legally-binding "finding" under law, inasmuch as Thompson has never had his "day in court."  

Using your traffic violation, when a traffic officer writes a ticket, he would be making a "legal finding" under law. If that's so,and it's a legal" finding" rather than a mere "accusation," why then does society even bother with "traffic courts?" Think about it.  (If a warning ticket is issued, by the way, that "inaction" doesn't even initiate the formal adjucication process.)

Thompson is entitled to his day in court, just as is any other "accused" in any criminal or civil case, under the constitution principle of "due process of law," before anyone can conclude that he violated the Hatch Act.

Look it up:

Due process - Wikipedia

You remeber learning the old axiom "innocent until proven guilty," right? It's this core principle of American law which operates here.

It's startling how many people don't understand this basic concept, which is a cornerstone of American Law.

Swarmi said...

I think Stewart's equity was blown when the doors where bashed in, the place shot up, and the pesky "bomb" was detonated inside.

It will become yet another foreclosure, some bank having this trashed home handed to them thanks to the WCSF and boy aint it in fine condition?

Swarmi said...

Also, on the "alleged" part.  As a public official, you are held to a higher standard.

Just because he wants to give himself the "Dewey Mackay" treatment doesnt mean he didnt violate any rules.

But hey, this all smacks of the "God Squad" cops in Shortcrick.

Do you realize those goons are licensed by the states of Utah and Arizona?

rudizink said...

Big distinction in the "Dewey Mackay" and Sheriff Thompson cases. 

McKay's been found guilty of criminal violations in an impartial court by a jury of his peers of serious violations of federal criminal law. He's had his "day in court."

Thompson's merely been charged of  fuzzy civil violations and hasn't even had a crack at defending himself in an impartial judiciary proceeding.

While I agree that right that elected public public officials ought to adhere to higher standards, such as ethical standards pertaining to avoidance any "appearance of impropriety,"  I'm not sure that public officials ought to be compelled to give up their "due process rights," especially in an instance like this, where unfair and legally-unfounded "accusations" are already damaging Thompson's reputation.

Those who would continue to accuse Thompson ought to consider the fact that the federal prosecutors have declined to press this matter.  One entirely reasonable interpretation of this is reluctance to prosecute is, of course, that the prosecutor of the federal OSC do not believe they can factually prove up their case.

Swarmi said...

My best reply would be....

We know polygamy is illegal, we know a lot of people are doing it, but its hard to prove, so nobody bothers them much.  Same lip service for them.

Still leaves a bad taste in your mouth though.

What I wonder though, how could Northern Utah POSSIBLE steal headlines from Southern Utah?

It must take some effort.

Kevin said...

No ... The letter said Thompson was in violation of the Hatch Act and he should not have run for office.  The OSC is choosing to do nothing to him in regards to the violation.

Kevin said...

The letter said Thompson was in violation of the Hatch Act and he should not have run
for office.  The OSC is choosing to do nothing to him in regards to the
violation.  Maybe they are choosing to do nothing because it has been 15 months and he is now in office. Thompson new at the onset of his campaign that he was in violation. Go back and read his statements.

Wrong said...

(Replying to Kevin)
I'm still not understanding why you are unable to process this.  The Office of Special Council is merely an office of federal bureaucrats on the prosecutorial side of the justice equation, which makes charging allegations, although it's definitely  not an impartial judicial tribunal which is designed into our American system of constitutional government. 

C'mon, big fella.  What happened?  Did you sleep through your high school civics class, where you might have learnt about US standards of  "due process of law?"

Kevin said...

What took the OSC so long? It was filled in June of 2010 and they just
sent down a ruling dated September 19th, 2011. Why did it take 15 months
to come to the conclusion that Thompson knew in March 2010, three
months prior to it being filed. I saw in an article how his opponent was
investigated and was clear in June 2010. I believe they file for office
in March, so it took the OSC approximately three months to investigate
and find his opponent not in violation. In an article on March 29, 2010
it read, "... With 3,084 sheriffs in the country, for example, the OSC
can't possibly
monitor all elections nationally for Hatch Act violations, Thompson said." 
I believe Thompson was banking on them not having time until after the
election and then it would be to late. The article also read, "... But
given the OSC's recent decisions regarding Greiner and Conley, Thompson
said, "I'm going to have to do some more research."  Well did he? 

rudizink said...

One of the more reasonable interpretations of you legitimate question, Kevin, regarding is "What took the OSC so long" quite possiblity relate to what I said upthread:

"Possibly the prosecutors of the federal OSC do not believe they can factually prove up their case. "

In the Greiner case, the evidence showed that in at least six instances Greiner had "signed off on six federal grants.

In the Thompson case, OSC prosuters have frankly adnitted that they have not not found any evidence that Thompson did anything similar.

I will continue to believe that Sheriff Thompson is "unjustly accused," and NOT PROVEN Guilty AS Charged, unless and until he gets his day in court, despite all the degenerate public "hoopla" which continues to arise in re the B.S. case.

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