A Jacksonville pastor has filed a complaint over political ads appearing to show JSO officers campaigning for Sheriff Mike Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry.
In the ads, the off-duty officers appear to use city property including cars, motorcycles and facilities.
That complaint from the Jacksonville Leadership Coalition and Pastor R.L. Gundy alleges the ads violated the Hatch Act, a federal law, by having "uniformed law enforcement officers, who work for the taxpayers, appear in political ads."
“When I saw it, I said, ‘Well they’re allowed to have their own opinion.’ We all are, (but) since they’re in uniform, it was kind of uncomfortable,” said voter Dale Collins.
JSO: "This was already reviewed. An officer appearing in uniform in a political campaign ad is not violating any state or federal law as long as the ad is filmed while the officer is off-duty." @ActionNewsJax followed up on statement that with OGC response. We'll update you.— Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) February 21, 2019
Action News Jax uncovered a new city ethics provision, just enacted by City Council in December.
It states, in part, "It is a violation for an officer to use any city resources, including property for any political campaigning."
JSO responded that the ad "was already reviewed. An officer appearing in uniform in a political campaign ad is not violating any state or federal law as long as the ad is filmed while the officer is off-duty.”
The city’s Office of General Counsel told Action News Jax, "No ethics rules have been violated. The provisions cited do not prohibit off-duty uniformed officers from participating in political ads."
They added that they’re in the process of drafting an opinion.
Curry’s campaign would not comment on the complaint.
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