Hatch Act • Ogden says insurer will pick up defense tab, nearly $300,000.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ogden's insurer paid $293,018 in legal fees for the unsuccessful defense of the recently terminated chief of police for violating the federal Hatch Act.
The number was provided to The Salt Lake Tribune after a request under the state's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).
Former chief Jon Greiner was fired Dec. 28 after the city was notified that Merit System Protection Board had upheld a finding that he had violated the act. Now Ogden will pay the veteran cop $77,300 in severance, an amount equal to six months of his annual salary and benefits package of $154,600, according to Shawn Choate, director of Human Resources for Ogden.
The Hatch Act prohibits government employees who oversee federal funds or are paid with them from seeking or holding partisan elected offices. In 2006, while he was police chief, Greiner, a Republican, was elected to the Utah Senate. Democrats filed a complaint with federal authorities.
Greiner was running for re-election in March 2010, when an administrative law judge ruled he had violated the Hatch Act. The police chief dropped his re-election bid, and Ogden appealed the ruling in April of that year.
Last November, the three-member Merit System Protection Board, which heard the appeal, ruled in a split 2-1 decision that Ogden must terminate the police chief for violating the Hatch Act or face the loss of federal funding.
Ogden had the option of appealing again, this time to the U.S. District Court of Utah. With a Dec. 30 deadline looming, then mayor-elect Mike Caldwell decided not to pursue the appeal and said he "reluctantly" terminated Greiner. Caldwell was sworn in as mayor Jan. 3.
"This is heartbreaking for me and Chief Greiner and his family," Caldwell said at the time. "And it's very unfair to the citizens of Ogden."
Greiner's legal fees were paid by Utah Risk Management Mutual Association, which is composed of Utah municipalities that pool resources for insurance and liability purposes. It is a public entity and is subject to GRAMA. However, Ogden provided the information to The Tribune after asking the risk management association for the tally of legal fees.