July 11, 2002
When Virginia Run's Al White ran in February for Gary Reese's Sully District seat on the Fairfax County School Board, he was the officially endorsed candidate of both the Sully and county Republican committees. And, for awhile, he advertised this fact in his campaign signs, literature and Web site.
As a result — since he's a high-up federal-government employee — the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) began investigating him for possibly violating the Hatch Act. On Tuesday, the OSC filed a petition for disciplinary action against him.
However White — currently about to leave the country as chief of investigations for an international tribunal investigating war crimes in Sierra Leone — said Wednesday that the whole thing's bogus.
"This is an absolute abuse of authority, and I'm going to ask Congress to investigate this whole situation," he said. "[Hunter Mill District School Board representative and federal employee] Stu Gibson ran during a special, partisan election in 1998, and a similar complaint was filed against him, and OSC did nothing."
White oversees Department of Defense (DOD) criminal investigations and is a member of the federal government's elite Senior Executive Service. The Hatch Act specifically prohibits executive-branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities.
OSC filed its petition for disciplinary action with the U.S. government's Merit Systems Protection Board. It charges White with three Hatch Act violations: 1. Running as a partisan candidate for elective office; 2. Knowingly soliciting, accepting and/or receiving political contributions from any person; and 3. Knowingly soliciting, accepting and/or receiving volunteer services in a partisan election.
The petition claims that, although the School Board candidates' names were placed on the ballot without any party designation, White's actions "resulted in a partisan candidacy." It contends that he solicited, accepted and advertised the endorsement of the Sully District Republican Committee and accepted campaign contributions and support from the county Republican Committee.
But White says the petition against him is "politically motivated" and says he had approval from his superiors to run for office: "I fully disclosed everything." He also noted that, once he learned that his "Republican-endorsed" advertisements were a concern, he removed those words from them.
"All I did was act in good faith and put together a campaign because of my activism in school affairs, not politics," he said. "This is a predominantly Republican area, and I would have taken anyone's endorsement. I'm not a mover and shaker in the Republican Party." White further said he'll take legal action against the OSC for allegedly "violating the Federal Privacy Act" by talking publicly in February about the details of the federal inquiry into his candidacy.