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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Ogden's police chief has told a judge that he believed his signature on federal grant documents was a formality and he was unaware of the Hatch Act until weeks before his successful election to the state Senate in 2006.
Peta-Gay Irving Brown, an attorney for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, argued Thursday that Jon Greiner's signature meant he was ultimately responsible for the grants, which would put him in violation of the federal law.
The Hatch Act of 1939 was aimed at corrupt politics and prohibited federal civil servants from running for office. It was expanded several times, first to include state and local employees who draw more than half their salary from federal money, then to cover others who handle federal grants.
During a disciplinary hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board, Brown argued that Greiner, a Republican, should be terminated from his job because he signed off on a half-dozen federal grants valued at nearly $700,000 that were in place during his campaign for the state's Senate District 18 seat.
Greiner's attorney, Jim Bradshow, countered it was the Office of Special Counsel and not his client that had shown an abuse of power.
"The abuse of power is an agency that contacts you three weeks before an election and says you have to resign from the race or quit your job," he said.
Greiner testified he was unaware of the Hatch Act until contacted by the Office of Special Counsel on Oct. 2, 2006.
He said he temporarily suspended his campaign and consulted with the city attorney and Utah attorney general. He said both told him they didn't believe he was violating the Hatch Act.
"I am the face of the Ogden city police department," he said. "I don't want that tarnished."
John Patterson, the city's chief administrative officer, testified that he is ultimately responsible for all municipal grants, including those received by the police department.
Attorneys representing Greiner, the city and Office of Special Counsel have until Dec. 15 to submit final legal briefs to Parke, who will issue a decision later.
Information from: Standard-Examiner
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)