D.C. Council candidate Clarene Martin attacked political rival Marion Barry yesterday, accusing the mayor of an "unethical" attempt to draw city government workers into his council campaign even though the Hatch Act bars those employees from such activity during partisan elections.
Martin said she disagrees with an assertion made Saturday by Barry campaign manager Anita Bonds, who said that because the mayor is running as an independent for an at-large council seat, the Hatch Act's ban on electioneering by city workers does not apply to those who want to volunteer in his campaign.
For Barry or Bonds "to instruct city employees that they may work in his campaign is an example of incompetence and unethical behavior," said Martin, who, like the mayor, is running as an independent. "He is obsessed with making things happen his way, even if they are illegal."
Campaigning at a senior citizens center yesterday afternoon, Barry scoffed at Martin's accusation, saying she was jealous of his political organization. "These other candidates are trying to get publicity at my expense," he said. "If they think something's wrong, they can file a complaint."
In that appearance, before the presidents of 14 tenant associations for seniors, Barry repeated Bonds's earlier statement that city workers are not "Hatched" -- or affected by the act's restrictions -- because he is running as a politically unaffiliated candidate.
As if to prove the mayor's point, Cathy Love, a resident services official in the D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing, showed the association presidents a thick bundle of Barry campaign donor and volunteer cards she said she intended to distribute at public housing sites in the city.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel, which enforces the Hatch Act, could not be reached yesterday to comment about the propriety of city government workers volunteering in the Barry campaign.
As recently as last July, at least one senior city official issued a memorandum warning employees in his department that workers covered by the Hatch Act "may not campaign for or against a candidate or slate of candidates in partisan elections" such as the those for the two at-large council seats on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In his July 24 memo, Colin Baenziger, associate director of a branch of the D.C. Department of Finance and Revenue, said the Hatch Act also barred city workers from such basic campaigning as distributing literature, collecting financial contributions or organizing political rallies.
The Hatch Act does permit city workers to wear political buttons, attend political rallies or meetings and contribute money to the political organizations of their choice.
Martin, who left her job as a federal government lawyer so she could be free of Hatch Act restrictions on her own campaign, called on Barry to drop out of the six-way race for the two at-large council seats. The top two vote-getters in the election win the seats.
The candidates are Ward 4 school board member Linda W. Cropp, the Democratic nominee; W. Cardell Shelton, the Republican candidate; council incumbent Hilda H.M. Mason (Statehood); and Ray Browne, Barry and Martin, all independents.
Barry showed no signs yesterday of abandoning what he described as his "underdog" bid for one of the council seats. "I expect I'll get the majority" of the votes, he said.