A citizen group is calling for change at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

The Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 amended the federal law to be less stringent on public employees running for state or local office, such as for Tulsa County Sheriff. Frontier file art.

None of the candidates for Tulsa County Sheriff are violating federal law by seeking election, according to an independent federal agency spokesman.

With the filing date (Dec. 7-9) for the special election looming, it’s still unknown how many candidates will file for sheriff — several have filed paperwork at the Tulsa County Election Board, and at least eight have indicated a desire to run.

Jim Peters Rice, a longtime law enforcement officer who previously said he would run for sheriff, said Monday on Facebook he was withdrawing for health reasons.

Of the remaining candidates, the question was raised if any, by being officers for a “state or local agency” were violating the Hatch Act.

The Hatch Act is a relatively obscure federal law enacted 75 years ago meant to limit certain political activities of federal employees. As the Washington Post put it in 2014:

“That means that if you are Secretary of Transportation, for example, you can’t hold a fundraiser for the incumbent House member in your hometown. If you are a mailman, you can’t run for the state Senate. You can’t wear a ‘Steven Colbert for President of South Carolina’ button while working at the National Archives.”

Doesn’t sound like it would preclude a police officer or deputy from running for sheriff, but, not knowing much about the Hatch Act, I called the election board and the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for an opinion.

Neither was sure.

However, this document seemed to imply that there may have been something to the idea.

The letter, written by General Counsel National Fraternal Order of Police Larry James, said it may be impermissible for an officer whose salary is paid “full or in part” by federal funds to “run for any elected partisan office.”

Tulsa city elections are non-partisan, but county offices are still partisan.

Some of the candidates for sheriff work on federally funded special assignments, and though they are paid by the City of Tulsa, the city is then reimbursed by the federal government for a portion of their salary.

However, the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama, amended the law so “local and state” employees — including police officers and deputies — must be compensated fully by federal funds to be ineligible for local or state elections.

This change will allow hundreds of thousands of state and local government employees to participate more actively in the democratic process in their communities,” said Office of Special Counsel spokesman Nick Swellenbach.