As the Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners moves toward transitioning all employees from the entity’s nonprofit Mobile Development Enterprises, questions remain about how the proposed move will impact State Rep. Adline Clarke’s status under a law meant to prohibit employees paid by federal grants from taking partisan office.
Clarke, a Democrat, is currently vice president at MDE, and it is unclear how her role will change when the Mobile County Personnel Board redefines the nonprofit’s positions under the direction of MHB. Board Vice Chairman Reid Cummings said MDE employees would have to reapply for the positions.
Clarke and former MHB Executive Director Dwayne Vaughn previously told Lagniappe that because Clarke works for a nonprofit her position is not subject to the Hatch Act. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) confirmed this week that employees of a nonprofit are regulated by the Hatch Act only if their salaries are paid 100 percent from Community Services Block Grants or Head Start funds.
Lagniappe made a formal request in a June 7 email to MHB attorney Raymond Bell for records related to grant funding for all MBE and MHB salaries. Bell responded on June 12 with “Please send this request to the Housing Board.”
Lagniappe also asked Clarke through email how she was paid, among other questions, but she did not respond. In response to a previous email sent earlier in the week asking about her Hatch Act status if she moved to MHB from MDE, Clarke wrote that “all decisions regarding the employment positions will be made by the Board of Commissioners of the Mobile Housing Board and the MDE Board. I do not know what positions will be available after the changes.”
Employees who do not work for a nonprofit are prohibited by the Hatch Act from participating in partisan elections if 100 percent of their salary is paid by any federal grant, OSC confirmed.
Clarke did receive an advisory opinion from OSC in 2013 stating she was not paid 100 percent from federal funds and therefore was not regulated by the Hatch Act. A source told Lagniappe that Clarke was paid through the Central Office Cost Center budget, which is made up of non-federalized money.
Lori Shackelford, housing authority CFO and acting executive director, did not return a call seeking to confirm this.
It’s unclear whether Clarke’s status or payment method would have to change if her job is transitioned from MDE to MHB.