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Republican committeeman questions Quatroche's eligibility for office

Hamburg Town Councilman Thomas Quatroche is facing questions about whether he should have run for office -- and whether any ECMC employee is eligible for elective office.

Peter Reska, a Republican committeeman in Hamburg, has filed a "complaint of possible prohibited political activity" with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to determine whether Quatroche, a Democrat, has violated the Hatch Act.

The Hatch Act bars government employees and people working for organizations that receive significant parts of their funding from the federal government from running for public office.

Quatroche is the senior vice president of marketing and planning at Erie County Medical Center.

Reska says that since 2004, when ECMC became an independent entity receiving most of its funding from the federal government, the Hatch Act applies to its employees.

"I'm just doing this because wrong is wrong," said Reska. "We're not talking jail time, we're not talking federal crime, we're not talking felonies. But Mr. Quatroche violated the Hatch Act."

Reska, who said he filed the inquiry Monday, asked Quatroche to refrain from voting or participating in Monday night's Hamburg Town Board meeting, but the councilman took part with the blessing of Town Attorney Vincent J. Sorrentino.

"I was under the impression the Hatch Act applied only to federal agencies, but once I heard about this I started looking into it further," Quatroche said Tuesday. "I had a conversation with [ECMC's] corporate counsel and asked our compliance officer for an opinion.

"If it applies to me, I'll do the right thing. I obviously wasn't aware of it."

Quatroche said the corporate counsel and compliance officer will ask the Office of Special Counsel for an advisory opinion.

"We try to be very compliance-clean. That's why we have a compliance officer, something ECMC's never had before," said ECMC President Michael A. Young. "Let's not hang anybody. Let's see what the rule is, and if we need to take action, it will be taken."

Reska made reference in his complaint to Young attending a seminar in September at which the Hatch Act was discussed.

Reska said that he became aware of it "in discussions with a friend" and that Young had been told the Hatch Act barred "all of his employees from holding elective office."

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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