Election Assistance Commission Settles Case of Illegal Political Hiring

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has settled a case brought by a Republican who says he was denied the General Counsel’s job at the agency because of his political affiliation, according to a release yesterday by the government’s internal ethics arm, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).  According to the OSC, the EAC paid “a substantial monetary settlement,” helping it to avoid “protracted litigation.” 

Under federal civil service rules, it is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on political affiliation.  In late 2008, the 4 EAC Commissioners (2 Republicans and 2 Democrats) agreed to hire the complainant as the Agency’s new General Counsel.  After that, according to OSC, two Commissioners (presumably the Democrats), discovered through their own research or from “contacts” that the Complainant was a Republican, and then nixed the appointment. 

One of those Democratic Commissioners, Gracia Hillman, is slated to become the EAC’s Chair in 2010.  The EAC, not to be confused with the Federal Election Commission, implements the Help America Vote Act, adopts voting system guidelines for local and state election officials, and certifies voting systems for use.