Irritation Does Not Equal Political Retaliation

Alisha Congleton was employed in the Letcher County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky for almost four years. Mickey Stines successfully ran for sheriff in the May 2018 primary and in the November 2018 general election. Congleton openly supported Eugene Slone, a deputy in the sheriff’s office, in the primary election. During the general election Congleton made various social media posts in which she praised Barry Engle, Stines’ opponent. Before Stines…

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Louisiana Police Union Has Right To Make Political Endorsements

The Lake Charles Police Officers’ Association represents the rank-and-file members of the Lake Charles, Louisiana Police Department. All of the members of the Association – which does not have collective bargaining rights – are considered “classified employees” under a Louisiana statute. A separate Louisiana statute prohibits classified employees from engaging in certain political activities, and imposes as a penalty mandatory discharge and a six-year ineligibility period for seeking employment…

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Intention To Run Against Sheriff Protected By First Amendment

The Kane County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office hired Steven Yahnke in 1986, and he worked as a deputy sheriff for more than 20 years, eventually holding the rank of sergeant. The position of sheriff is an elected post in Kane County, and in 2006, then-Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey opted to retire rather than run for reelection. Deputy Sheriff Patrick Perez decided to run for the post, and Yahnke also contemplated entering…

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In North Carolina, Sheriff’s Employees Are Not County Employees

When Daniel Bailey was elected to the office of Sheriff of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, he immediately fired Deputy Sheriff Terri Young, who had failed to contribute to Bailey’s election campaign. Young sued, citing a North Carolina statute that “no county employee may be required as a duty or condition of employment, promotion, or tenure of office to contribute funds for political or partisan purposes.” The statute defines a…

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‘Resign To Hold Office’ Rule Upheld

Some public sector employers have so-called “resign to hold office” rules. Indiana, for example, has a statute that prohibits individuals from simultaneously holding elected office and being employed in the same unit of government. These rules prohibit law enforcement officers and firefighters from successfully running for public office and continuing to hold their jobs as employees. “Resign to hold office” rules have been consistently upheld as constitutional in spite…

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In Georgia, Deputy Sheriffs Can Be Fired For Political Reasons

Terri Ezell began working in the Muscogee County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office in 1983 as a correctional officer in the county jail. She was promoted to the position of deputy sheriff in 1985 and continued to climb in rank thereafter. In 2000, she became the first woman to have obtained the rank of major, and later rose to the position of commander, overseeing the jail and 250 employees. In 2008,…

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Dallas Dispatcher Can Be Fired For Running For Office

Micah Phillips began working for the Dallas, Texas Fire Department in April 1999. He was working as a fire dispatcher when, in December 2011, he announced his candidacy for the Dallas County Commissioners Court. The City fired him, citing a provision in the city charter that employees who run for elective office within Dallas County “shall immediately forfeit his or her place or position with the City.” The federal…

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Court Strikes Down Philadelphia’s Ban On Police PAC Contributions

A recent federal appeals court decision begins with a blunt tale of Philadelphia politics: “In the century preceding the adoption of the 1951 Charter, Philadelphia’s civic government was dominated by political party organizations. The city’s then-powerful Republican Party machine had a stranglehold on local government, determining who was elected, who was hired, and who received lucrative government contracts. Because it controlled every level of government, the machine built a…

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