Hatch Act won’t hamper Nojay assembly campaign
Bill Nojay, a candidate for New York State Assembly representing Livingston County in the 133rd District, is not in violation of the Hatch Act — as long as his paycheck comes from a private consulting firm rather than the City of Detroit, Mich.
Nojay’s job title is “Chief Operating Officer” for the Detroit Department of Transportation. However, he is on an 11-month contract through a consulting firm to streamline the city’s bus system. Nojay told the County News last week that his lawyers assured him that his status as a private contractor protects his campaign from violating the Hatch Act.
“If his [Nojay’s] paycheck comes from the private sector, he would not be covered by the Hatch Act,” said Ann O’Hanlon, spokeswoman for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the agency which enforces the Hatch Act and renders opinions. “Persons covered by the Hatch Act have to be state or local employees.”
O’Hanlon was responding to a complaint filed by The Livingston County News Aug. 8 to determine Nojay’s status as a candidate legally eligible to run for office under the federal Hatch Act
The City of Detroit has contracted management of its Department of Transportation to Parsons Brinckerhoff Michigan, Inc. which in turn has subcontracted to Envisurage, LLC., which is Nojay’s employer. On the assumption that Envisurage, not the City of Detroit, is paying Nojay his salary, the Livingston County News is no longer pursuing the complaint.
“If it’s an independent contractor who has been hired, but gets a paycheck from the locality, it’s not that simple,” O’Hanlon said. “But if the paycheck comes from the private sector contractor, it is that simple: The person [does not come under the Hatch Act].”
“The Hatch Act is all about keeping improper politics out of the federal government, so when the federal funds reach into the states and localities, the Hatch Act follows that money to assure that the power of the federal purse can’t be used to coerce or influence partisan politics,” O’Hanlon continued, noting “The statute covers federal employees, and state and local employees who have connection to federal funding.”
“If you’re talking about a private sector individual who is not a federal employee — [someone who] may have a contract with the government, but is not a government employee — then the statute doesn’t cover him.”
Nojay, a Pittsford Republican, faces former Avon mayor Richard Burke in the Sept. 13 party primary. The winner will face Steuben County legislator Randy Weaver of Hornell, a Democrat, in the general election.