Stephen Casey, the Woonsocket firefighter who defeated state Representative Jon Brien in a Democratic primary last month, has been ruled eligible to run by the US Office of Special Counsel. The ruling comes after Brien argued the Hatch Act precluded Casey from being a candidate.
According to a three-page letter to Casey from the Special Counsel’s Hatch Act Unit, Casey’s work in the fire department is not connected to federally funded programs and activities.
The letter goes on to say that Casey will remain outside the Hatch Act’s jurisdiction as long as he does not participate in any of the department’s federally funded overtime shifts.
Casey offers this comment in a statement:
“From the beginning, I felt this was a claim without merit that was issued to distract Woonsocket voters from matters we should be addressing to help move the city forward. Since winning the primary Election in September, I have continued walking door-to-door, and talking to constituents to find out their greatest concerns. This has been and will continue to be my focus through November 6th.”
This ruling not only clears the way for Casey to run, but alleviates the threat to Woonsocket’s taxpayers of a costly special election that the complaining party had raised. The only real abuse of taxpayer dollars was the wasted time and money spent on investigating this frivolous claim.
Brien, meanwhile, is running a write-in campaign in an attempt to keep his seat.