A General Services Administration computer expert who aroused the ire of the Nixon administration in the late 1960s has filed a $390,000 lawsuit against the agency, claiming he was denied promotions and harassed by GSA officials because he refused to make political contributions.
The suit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by John E. Holt of Arlingotn, seeks $65,000 in lost wages and benefits and $325,000 in punitive damages from the federal government, the GSA, agency administratior Rowland G. Freeman, and GSA official George W. Dodson.
The suit was filed after administrative remedies were exhausted, Holt's lawyer, H.J.M. Melaro, said.
According to court papers, Dodson and other unnamed GSA officials first solicited campaign contributions from Holt and others in March 1968. Holt originally contributed $50, the suit said, but later refused to give any more money.
Beginning in September, 1968, and continuing for five years, Holt was denied promotions, criticized for alleged slowness in producing reports, transferred from Washington to a Gaithersburg office, and denied salary increases, according to the suit.
He was also demoted temporarily to a nonsupervisory position in 1969, but was reinstated after he filed an internal GSA complaint, the suit contends.
The Civil Service Commission later found six GSA officials guilty of Hatch Act violations in connection with soliciting contributions for President Richard Nixon following a 1971 complaint by Holt, according to newspaper reports at the time.
In 1974, Holt was fired by then-GSA chief Arthur Sampson after his job performance was rated unsatisfactory and after Holt criticized FEDNET, a Nixon administration proposal for a massive computer data bank project, Sampson changed his mind after President Gerald Ford, reacting to a letter from Holt's college-age daughter, intervened.
The alleged harassment of Holt was done out of "retaliation . . . and reprisal" by Dodson for Holt's refusal to make the political contributions and for filing complaints with his supervisors, the suit claims.
Holt's attorney said this week Holt is a GS-15, a rating he has held since 1967.
No trail date has been set.