Police chief plans to stay in Senate race

Greiner says he will appeal ruling by special counsel

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 1 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

Ogden Police Chief and Utah Senate candidate Jon Greiner plans to remain police chief and candidate.

Greiner, who is running as a Republican in Senate District 18, announced Tuesday that he is appealing the opinion of the U.S. Special Counsel earlier this month, which said that he is in violation of the federal Hatch Act and either needs to withdraw from the race or resign as chief.

The Hatch Act prohibits federal, state and local government employees who handle federal funds from seeking partisan elected office.

Through a letter from his attorney, Greiner contends that the Hatch Act does not apply to him because the federal funds which came through grants to the police department were never administered by him. Additionally, the approximately $90,000 in federal funds is less than one percent of the overall police budget, another benchmark for application of the act.

"I looked into this before I filed, and I didn't think we fit their definition," he said. "We've gone back and looked at this and we still don't know how they got from point A to point B."

A violation of the Hatch Act would not lead to the removal of Greiner's name from the ballot. Instead, his case would be referred to the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, who would determine if the violation warranted dismissal.

If the board found dismissal appropriate, then the city would either have to fire Greiner or it could be required to forfeit federal grants equal to two years salary for the employee. Greiner currently makes just over $104,000 annually.

The complaint about Greiner's possible violation of the federal law was filed by the Utah Democratic Party.

He called it an underhanded move which he said would fail on Election Day.

"It's Chicago politics in Ogden, Utah — that's the best way to describe it," he said. "I'm staying in the race because I think the voters in this district should be able to vote for who they want."

Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, was surprised that Greiner decided to remain in the race. Despite that, he figured that voters would still vote for his Democratic opponent Stuart Reid.

"I have faith in the voters," he said. "This explains how he handles his current office. And when people abuse their power, they will probably continue to abuse it."

Utah Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Hartley saw it differently, instead saying that voters would see the attempt as a way for Democrats to win a race without running a race.

"We hope that the voters will see this as a desperate, sleazy attempt to win this race," he said.

According to financial disclosures filed Tuesday, the investigation has not hampered fund-raising efforts by Greiner or Reid.

Since Sept. 15, which was the last time disclosures were filed, Greiner has raised $17,194 and spent $27,759. For the campaign, he has raised more than $70,000, but only has about $3,000 left.

Reid has raised $16,770 since Sept. 15, and spent $21,492. He has raised a total of more than $37,000 and has almost $9,000 for the final week of campaigning.


E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com

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