Prosecutor dismisses Hatch Act complaint against North Las Vegas assemblyman

The Clark County district attorney’s office has dismissed a complaint against Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, who was accused by the son of a woman running against him of violating the Hatch Act, which bans federal workers from engaging in partisan politics. The complaint asked that Thompson, D-North Las Vegas, be thrown off the 2014 ballot.

Clark County Counsel Mary-Anne Miller said in a letter dated Wednesday that the Hatch Act can’t be used to challenge a person’s ability to run for office but could affect the candidate’s job if he or she won election.

“Penalties for violation of the Hatch Act include removal of the person from his employment or a fine against his employer, but not removal from state office,” Miller wrote.

Miller said she would forward the complaint to Thompson’s supervisor. She said the complaint also could be filed with the Federal Office of Special Counsel, the agency charged with investigating and enforcing the Hatch Act.

Michael Little filed the March 31 complaint with the Clark County Election Department. Little’s mother is Patricia “Pat” Little, the Independent American Party candidate for Assembly District 17, which Thompson represents. She won office and served in the Assembly twice before as a Democrat during the 1985 and 1991 legislative sessions.

“How do you dismiss something without ever investigating it,” said Little, who was disappointed with the quick dismissal.

Thompson called the complaint “politically motivated.”

“Frankly, I’m not focused on these baseless political attacks by my opponents but rather working toward finding solutions for my constituents that move our state forward,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson was appointed by the Clark County Commission on April 16, 2013, to complete the term of former Assemblyman Steven Brooks, a Democrat ousted by his colleagues after being accused of making threats and acting erratically. This year, Thompson filed to run for election to the Assembly seat. The term is for two years.

The federal Hatch Act of 1939 doesn’t ban political appointments. “However, if the employee is covered by the Hatch Act, the employee would be prohibited from seeking election to that office,” Little’s complaint said.

It’s unclear whether Thompson’s job falls under the Hatch Act because he has a local government job. His job deals with federal grants, and some of his salary may have come from federal funding, the complaint argues.

“We are unsure if Mr. Thompson’s paycheck is 100% funded by federal money or not,” the complaint said. “There seems to have been an effort made after his appointment to change his work situation in order to allow him to run.”

Thompson is the regional initiatives coordinator for the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, which focuses on preventing homelessness and works with troubled youth in Southern Nevada.

Thompson faces no Democratic opponent in the June 10 primary. In the Nov. 4 general election, Thompson will face Republican Patrick Mendez and Little.

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