Davis critic, Sires staff spar over complaint alleging Hatch Act violations

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Pat Desmond, an ally turned enemy for Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, has filed a federal complaint alleging that a staffer for U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) has violated the Hatch Act, but Sires’ office has dismissed the complaint as “fake news” and “nonsense.” Pat Desmond

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

In a May 18th complaint filed with the Hatch Act Unit of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Desmond alleges that Erica Daughtry, Sires’ communications director, has violated the Hatch Act in two ways.

The first being that Sires’ Jersey City office is located within the county board of elections suite, which Desmond, via the complaint, says is a violation since the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities pertaining to an election.

The more substantive portion of Desmond’s complaint says that Daughtry has disregarded the Hatch Act by making voting lists, phone calls and overall being an advocate for Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti’s (D-31) re-election campaign.

“Federal employee Erica Daughtry, while on duty collecting a federal paycheck, is politicking on government time, working on Assemblyman Chiaravalloti’s campaign,” Desmond wrote in the complaint.

“She is compiling voter lists, making phone calls, completing voter registrations [and] collecting political contributions[.]”

Richard Turner, Sires chief of staff and also the Weehawken mayor, dismissed the complaint as “fake news” and “nonsense,” claiming it wasn’t even filed with the right office, also praising Daughtry’s work with the senior congressman.

“This is fake news … [Daughtry] has done no campaigning or fundraising for Assemblyman Chiaravalloti. No one’s ever accused us of using any government office or equipment for politics and the Hatch Act doesn’t even apply to Congressional employees,” he said over the phone.

“Whoever orchestrated this must be afraid of Chiaravalloti if they are attacking his supporters. Erica’s an outstanding employee, who to our knowledge, who has used anything in the Congressional office inappropriately. Erica is an honest, sincere and valued employee.”

Turner added that, “like the rest of us,” Daughtry supports the Hudson County Democratic Organization slate in elections on her private time.

Desmond, who has aided the off-the-line LD-31 Assembly campaign of Christopher Munoz and Kristen Zadroga Hart, could not immediately be reached for further comment.

“If she’s not campaigning for Chiaravalloti, why is she making phone calls on his behalf? Why is she sending emails on his behalf? She gets involved with every Bayonne election and she should not be allowed to be working in that office [given its location],” Desmond said in response.

The primary election is less than a week away, set for Tuesday, June 6.