Monday, July 21, 2014

US Ambassador to South Africa meddling in New York politics -- again

Patrick Gaspard is back to his old political tricks, with more possible violations of the Hatch Act

The unrelenting political activities of a U.S. State Department ambassador to prop up the Democratic Party's political machine in New York

America's ambassador to the nation of South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, is once again engaging is political activities that some critics say may violate a federal law that prohibits such involvement by federal government employees.

Ambassador Gaspard has been engaged in behind-the-scenes political machinations to support the candidacy of Michael Blake, who is campaigning to seek the New York State Assembly seat vacated by Eric Stevenson after he was convicted of bribery in January, The New York Post reports, adding that, Mr. Blake is a "protégé" of Mr. Gaspard.

The federal Hatch Act aims to limit the ability of U.S. politicians to use federal employees for activities of political parties. This reform stemmed from allegations that Democratic Party officials exploited government employees for political gain during the New Deal, but the electioneering regulation restricts federal employees, with few exceptions, from all political parties from engaging in political activities.

This isn't the first time that Ambassador Gaspard has flouted Hatch Act regulations. Today's article in The New York Post mentions that prior to reportedly lobbying the healthcare union SEIU 1199 into endorsing Mr. Blake, Ambassador Gaspard was engaged in political activities in support of the reelection campaign for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).

Prior to that, a New York Republican Party political operative, E. O'Brien Murray, lodged a Hatch Act complaint with the State Department, accusing Ambassador Gaspard, a former top White House aide and the former top political operative with SEIU 1199, of violating restrictions on political activities by getting involved last year in Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign. Ambassador Gaspard appeared to further flout the Hatch Act by reportedly lobbying in favor of City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito's selection as the new Council speaker. All of Ambassador Gaspard's electioneering activities were conducted while serving as an ambassador under the U.S. State Department.

How many times will prosecutors, intent on cleaning up corruption in New York politics, keep allowing Ambassador Gaspard a green light to exploit his office, position of influence, and federal resources accorded to him in relation to his position in the U.S. State Department, if any, for electioneering activities to benefit Democratic Party candidates for public office ?


State assembly candidate Michael Blake’s ‘ragged’ efforts for ‘hope and change’ (The New York Post)

GOP Operative Files Hatch Act Complaint Against U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard (The New York Daily News)

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