Special Counsel official discusses the Hatch Act

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 21, 2010; 1:37 AM

The Office of Special Counsel, an investigative agency primarily responsible for looking out for whistleblowers, also prosecutes the Hatch Act, a law prohibiting federal workers from engaging in certain political activity. With the midterm elections just a few weeks away, the OSC is reminding civil servants to observe the law.

Ana Galindo-Marrone, 46, has been chief of the agency's Hatch Act unit since 2000. She's a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and lives in Arlington County. She discussed her staff's work with The Washington Post.

Q: How many government lawyers are involved in prosecuting the Hatch Act?

A: Back when I started this work in 1999, it was just me. Now we're up to 12 attorneys. We all come with different backgrounds. I was a school board attorney in Miami before coming here. Some people I hire right out of law school. We just made an offer to a public defender. We have an attorney right out of the JAG corps.

Q: How many cases do you prosecute every year?

A: We enforce this law nationwide, against state and local employees as well as federal ones who violated it. In fiscal 2009, we prosecuted 10 cases. Currently, I'm looking at five or six cases on my desk that have just been approved for prosecution - on top of 10 we already filed this year. The number is growing. In 2008 there were three cases, in 2007 just one. Half our time is dedicated to our advisory function. We've issued 4,320 advisory opinions this year.

Q. What's an advisory opinion as it pertains to the Hatch Act?

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