In addition to serving as Interim Chief, McQueen is also running for Sheriff of Lowndes County. McQueen qualified to run for Sheriff in March of this year. The law enforcement veteran was then appointed as Interim Chief in June, after the city council voted to fire the now former Chief Joseph St. John.
Even though the Chief is considered an Interim, he is still confined to the laws of the “Hatch Act”
The US Department of Special Council defines the Hatch Act as such:
The Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1508, restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state, county, or municipal executive agencies in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency. It has long been established that an officer or employee of a state or local agency is subject to the Hatch Act if, as a normal and foreseeable incident of his principal position or job, he performs duties in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal funds.
According to Erica Stern Hamrick, an attorney in the Hatch Act Division of The US Department of Special Council, it all comes down to involvement with federal funds. If the Columbus Police Department receives any federal funding, McQueen falls under the Hatch Act.
Should it be confirmed that the chief and sheriff hopeful is covered by the Hatch Act , the Council’s website, www.osc.gov , offers the following generic opinion of running for public office: “Individual who supervises employees who work on federally funded programs is subject to the Hatch Act because of his oversight responsibilities for those activities, even if his salary is not federally funded and he has no direct duties in connection with those programs.”
The website goes on to explain that “An employee covered by the Act may not, among
other things, be a candidate for public office in a partisan election, i.e., an election in which any candidate represents, for example, the Republican or Democratic Party. As an employee covered by the Hatch Act, you are prohibited from, among other things, running as a candidate for public office in a partisan election”
While members of the council may or may not have been aware of the Hatch Act restrictions, the responsibility lies with McQueen to get an opinion from The Department of Special Council.
McQueen says he has been made aware of the Hatch Act but has not gotten an opinion from the Department of Special Council and has no intention on doing so.
He further added “This is nothing more than a political ploy to cause a smoke screen to take the citizen’s minds off of what is important within the Sheriff’s race-meaning education, training and knowledge to get the job done. I will continue to run on my merits and run this office as such.”