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Public Defender Henry Coker's Endorsement of Dumanis Violated Federal Hatch Act?

Local resident and homeless-advocate Kathryn Rhodes filed a formal complaint to the Office of the Special Counsel, on January 25 over the endorsement (see an earlier story here) of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis by County of San Diego Public Defender Henry Coker.

"Bonnie Dumanis is solution oriented," read Coker's endorsement. "She has opened the door to criminal defense attorneys to round table public safety issues, assisted in providing e-discovery to the Office of the Public Defender, and she is the only mayoral candidate with proven executive leadership dedicated to consensus building and high-tech advances, ensuring the City of San Diego will be a better place for the next generation."

The complaint alleges that Coker's endorsement violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits state and local employees from using their authority to "influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office" as well as "coercing, attempting to coerce, commanding, or advising a State or local officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes."

According to the complaint, Coker's endorsement falls under the Hatch Act because the County, and District Attorney's office receives federal funding.

"Citizen Coker can endorse anyone he wants. However, County of San Diego Public Defender Coker is banned from political speech and endorsements. In theory the Federal Hatch Act requires the County of San Diego to fire violators, or pay back Federal funds as a form of punishment," reads an email from Rhodes.

A representative from the Office of the Special Counsel said the case needs to be investigated before determining whether the endorsement is in violation of the Hatch Act.

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Photo of Dumanis and Coker from tjsl.edu

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Local resident and homeless-advocate Kathryn Rhodes filed a formal complaint to the Office of the Special Counsel, on January 25 over the endorsement (see an earlier story here) of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis by County of San Diego Public Defender Henry Coker.

"Bonnie Dumanis is solution oriented," read Coker's endorsement. "She has opened the door to criminal defense attorneys to round table public safety issues, assisted in providing e-discovery to the Office of the Public Defender, and she is the only mayoral candidate with proven executive leadership dedicated to consensus building and high-tech advances, ensuring the City of San Diego will be a better place for the next generation."

The complaint alleges that Coker's endorsement violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits state and local employees from using their authority to "influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office" as well as "coercing, attempting to coerce, commanding, or advising a State or local officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes."

According to the complaint, Coker's endorsement falls under the Hatch Act because the County, and District Attorney's office receives federal funding.

"Citizen Coker can endorse anyone he wants. However, County of San Diego Public Defender Coker is banned from political speech and endorsements. In theory the Federal Hatch Act requires the County of San Diego to fire violators, or pay back Federal funds as a form of punishment," reads an email from Rhodes.

A representative from the Office of the Special Counsel said the case needs to be investigated before determining whether the endorsement is in violation of the Hatch Act.

Image

Photo of Dumanis and Coker from tjsl.edu

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Comments
2

In addition to Endorsing San Diego County co-worker Dumanis, non-elected San Diego County Public Defender Henry Coker also endorsed two lawyers for Superior Court Judges: Dave Berry and Robert Amador using his official title.

http://davidberryforjudge.com/david-berry-endorsements.php

http://amadorforjudge.com/endorsements.html

Jan. 30, 2012

So, will the FBI "investigate" this and recommend prosecution? Don't bet on it.

Jan. 31, 2012

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