California Democrats are preparing for their pow wow next weekend in Sacramento. On the agenda: replacing longtime party boss John Burton and electing a host of new regional leaders for the party.
Locally, controversy is beginning to reign in the fight for the party’s Region 8 Director. And at the center of the action: Dr. Humberto Gomez, Jr., a candidate for the regional director position.
Gomez, a local activist and ally of former and soon-to-return congressional candidate Emilio Huerta, is in the crosshairs of activists amid questions of his political activity. Beyond his political connections, Gomez works as a consumer safety officer for the Food and Drug Administration.
His federal employment, it appears, is complicating his bid. As a Federal employee, Gomez is bound by the Hatch Act – the federal statute barring federal employees from a litany of political activity.
Gomez, in his post with the FDA, qualifies as a “Less Restricted Employee” under the Hatch Act guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the investigatory agency primarily responsible for investigating claims related to the federal civil service, including improper political activity.
Less Restricted Employees, under the Hatch Act, are barred soliciting, accepting, or receiving contributions for political parties, candidates, or partisan groups. In addition, they can’t host fundraisers or collect contributions for fundraisers.
Sources directed CVObserver to an April 14 Gomez hosted for his candidacy for the Region 8 directorship, which would appear to violate the Hatch Act based on the foregoing. The fundraiser benefited Central Valley Families for Economic Justice, a PAC with little information about its purpose or formation.
Among the concerns raised by a variety of Democratic sources was that the PAC was being used to cover convention attendance costs for Gomez and associates. That kind of activity is also barred by the Hatch Act – specifically stated in an FAQ by the OSC.
Valley Democratic activists have reportedly filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel regarding Gomez’s political fundraising activities, alleging a violation of the Hatch Act, sources told CVObserver.
The Democrats’ Region 8 covers the southern San Joaquin – including parts of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties.
Photo: Roe Borunda/The Collegian