OSC Settles Hatch Act Case in Va.

Posted March 26, 2004 at 5:11pm

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has settled its case against a top Defense Department official who was accused of violating provisions of the Hatch Act during his short-lived run for the House in 2003.

Andre Hollis, a former deputy assistant secretary for counternarcotics who was preparing to seek the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 8th district, admitted to knowingly violating the act after earlier denying the accusation, the OCS said in a news release last week.

Because he had already resigned his federal post on Oct. 1, 2003, Hollis avoided any further sanctions from the agency. He had quietly dropped out of the Congressional race that fall.

The Hatch Act prohibits most federal employees from running for partisan political offices or engaging in other political activities.

The OCS filed a complaint against Hollis in September, charging that he had raised money for his nascent campaign and a separate organization seeking to elect a Republican in the 8th district. While Hollis never publicly declared his candidacy, the OSC charged that he had agreed to use his name and his official title on one of the organization’s fundraising solicitations.

Hollis had denied any association with the group during his initial conversations with OCS, the agency said.

Hollis, 38, had been touted by some GOP activists as a possible strong opponent to Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) shortly after the Congressman had made controversial remarks a year ago suggesting that Jews had been pushing the United States toward war with Iraq.

Prior to working at the Pentagon, Hollis served as senior counsel for the House Government Reform Committee under then-Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.), and was also a counsel at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

David Tripp, an attorney for Hollis, said Friday that the OCS erred in its announcement of the settlement by implying that Hollis had initially lied about knowingly violating the Hatch Act.

Still, Tripp said that Hollis, who has returned to the private sector, is satisfied with the outcome.

“They were willing to dismiss this case basically with an apology,” he said.

Meanwhile, four candidates continue to seek the Republican nod for the 8th district in the May 15 GOP convention: Lisa Marie Cheney, a government relations consultant; Jane Eshagpoor, a one-time aide to former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R); Matt Mueda, a paramedic who has also served in both Bush administrations; and Mike Riccardi, a Capitol Police officer.

“We have four competitive candidates, each of whom would proudly carry the banner for the party in November,” said Michael Lane, chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee.

Although the suburban 8th is reliably Democratic, Republicans believe they have some hope there because of Moran’s various controversial headlines through the years.

Moran is facing a primary challenge from lawyer Andy Rosenberg. Former Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kate Hanley had entered the race but then dropped out. State Sen. Leslie Byrne also contemplated making the race and then declined, but she recently told WAMU Radio that she was reconsidering her decision.

The filing deadline for the June 8 Democratic primary is April 9.

“We’re undecided whether a politically broken James Moran or a politically unknown Andy Rosenberg is our better opponent,” Lane said.