What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Governor

GooseCharlie CristFernandina Beach could have lost federal grant money if found in violation of the Florida’s Resign to Run law, which prohibits government employees from running for partisan political office if they are employed on programs financed with federal loans or grants. The State Elections Office determined in February that Fire Chief, Danny Leeper, would have to step down to run for political office. Though he disagreed with the decision and will seek to have the law amended, Leeper has stepped down from an $81,625.00 salary and a 26 year career with the Fernandina Beach Fire Department. He is running for the District 1 seat of the Nassau County Commission currently held by Jim B. Higginbotham.
Higginbotham brought the issue to the city manager’s attention fearing the city would be issued a penalty equal to twice the amount of Leeper’s salary. Though the department is not funded with federal grants, a grant application was filed for a pair of night vision goggles with Leeper listed as the contact person, putting him in conflict with the Hatch Act, which also restricts political activity by employees of certain state and local government agencies, requiring him to either resign or quit his campaign for political office.
In 2007, the Florida Senate rejected a House request to change the Resign to Run law so Governor Charlie Crist could run for Vice President in 2008 without being forced to step down from his current term which expires in 2010.

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