JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A pastor filed a federal complaint on Thursday about the use of Jacksonville police officers in a political advertisement endorsing Mayor Lenny Curry.
In a statement, the Rev. R.L. Gundy said:
"Today I filed a Hatch Act complaint in response to Mayor Curry using law enforcement in a political ad to attack his opponent. As I am sure Mayor Curry realizes, having uniformed law enforcement officers, who work for the taxpayers, appear in his political ad is a violation of the federal Hatch Act, and those officers' terms of employment with the City of Jacksonville, as well as a violation of the ethical standards of conduct outlined by FDLE (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and city employment codes."
The federal Hatch Act restricts the political acitivities of some government employees. Gundy spoke to News4Jax at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, where he held a meeting addressing violence in Jacksonville.
“When you evoke police officers in the community to endorse a mayor to run for office, it seems unethical," Gundy said. "I want that commercial to stop."
News4Jax asked the Jacksonville General Counsel's office about the use of the officers in the advertisement. It sent a response, which reads:
No ethics rules have been violated with respect to this matter. The provisions cited do not prohibit off duty uniformed officers from participating in political ads.
According to Sheriff Mike Williams, city lawyers said it was legal to use the officers as long as they were off-duty and he gave them permission.