WOONSOCKET — Firefighter Stephen Casey has been cleared to run for state representative by the Office of Special Counsel in Washington, D.C., saying the prohibitions of the Hatch Act do not apply to him, as his opponent, State Representative Jon Brien (D-Dist. 50), had alleged.
The law is not broad enough to apply to Casey simply because he worked three overtime shifts underwritten by a federal grant between February and May, according to Leslie Grogan, a lawyer in the Hatch Act Unit of the OSC.
“Additionally as long as you refrain from participating in any of the department’s federally funded overtime shifts, you will remain outside of the Act’s jurisdiction,” Grogan wrote in a letter which Casey made public yesterday. “Accordingly, the Hatch Act does not prohibit you from being a candidate for public office in the partisan elections at issue.”
The findings short-circuit the allegations leveled against Casey by Brien on Sept. 26, when he announced on the steps of the federal court building in Providence that he’d filed a formal complaint against him with the OSC.
Though Brien is the incumbent, and has been since 2006, Casey appears poised to succeed him after defeating him in the Democratic primary, 722-670, on Sept. 11. Though the outcome means Casey’s name will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot as the unopposed candidate, Brien has nevertheless pressed on, announcing himself as a write-in candidate and buying media ads to provide his supporters with detailed instructions on how to vote.
Casey welcomed the official denunciation of the Hatch allegations, saying he had always viewed them as little more than a baseless gimmick designed to buoy Brien’s profile after his loss.
Read more in our print edition.