April 13, 2016

Federal, state and county rules support chief deputy’s right to seek public office

PCSO – Recently, there have been inquiries made to the sheriff’s office by members of the news media and public regarding whether or not Chief Deputy Steve Henry is required to resign as second in command of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to run for Sheriff on the 2016 ballot. The answer to the question is that Steve Henry is allowed to keep his position as Chief Deputy and seek public office. Federal, State and County laws support his right to seek office, as do Pinal County policies and procedures.

During the past 7 ½ years, Steve Henry has served as the Chief Deputy for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. As the Chief Deputy, he is second in command and has worked side-by-side with Sheriff Babeu through all of the public safety improvements the office has made to better serve the communities of Pinal County.

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “When I was elected Sheriff in 2008, I recruited and selected Steve Henry to serve as my Chief Deputy. Every important decision and reform was made jointly with Steve Henry. We've not only followed county policy, but all state and federal laws and formal opinion from the Attorney General's Office supporting Steve Henry's ability to remain as my Chief Deputy until Jan. 1, 2017."

Supporting Steve Henry’s right to seek public office and remain serving as Chief Deputy, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, during the public Work Study session on February 10, discussed plans for election season training for county employees and elected officials.

During the public presentation by Pinal County Human Resources Interim Director Patrick Camunez, the director was asked by Supervisor Miller if an employee of Pinal County could be a candidate for office. Director Camunez replied, “Yes,” explaining that county policies do not forbid this as long as employees are not campaigning while on county time.

In addition to the County Human Resources Director clarifying this position, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has provided Pinal County with a written legal opinion confirming Steve Henry is allowed to run for elected office while remaining in his current “at-will” position as Chief Deputy of PCSO. This position is also supported by a federal law known as “The Hatch Act.”

This issue is specifically addressed in the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012. Because the position Steve Henry currently holds is not federally funded, the Hatch Act allows him to run for an elected office while serving as Chief Deputy. The update to the Hatch Act was passed by congress and signed into law by President Obama in January of 2013. Since 2013, everyone operates under the rule that only those employees whose salaries are entirely federally funded are prohibited from being a candidate for partisan public office, [5 USC 1502 (a)(3)]. Chief Henry’s salary is not funded by federal dollars, so the revised Hatch Act rules allow him to run for public office while in his current position. For more information visit the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office online. Follow PCSO on Facebook and Twitter @PinalCSO.