According to his Facebook page as recently as Friday afternoon, Councilman Andre Rainey—who is challenging Mayor Frank Catalina in November—listed his occupation as a food service worker at the VA Hospital. However, according to the VA public affairs office, there is no Andre Rainey working at the VA.
Barbara DiCola, a VA Hudson Valley Health Care System Public Affairs program assistant, told The Peekskill Post earlier this week that Andre Rainey is not currently an employee of the VA.
“He is not an employee, we have no record of him,” DiCola said. “Now, we do not give information out about our past employees, but as I said, he is not in our system, I know that. I checked with HR. He is not an employee at the VA.”
When asked if food services are contracted or sub-contracted out, and therefore it would make sense that Rainey does not show up in the VA database, DiCola said that food service is done in-house at the VA.
“No,” she said in response to the question. “We have an actual nutrition and food service program here at VA Hudson Valley.”
As it happens, there is good reason that Rainey is not listed as a current employee. The Veterans Administration (VA) is a federal agency, and the Hatch Act prevents most federal employees from running for partisan political office. So, Rainey, a Democrat, was faced with a choice: keep his job at the VA or run for mayor—he could not do both. He has chosen to leave his job and remain in the race for mayor.
In a Friday afternoon statement to The Peekskill Post, Rainey said the following:
“The GOP has sued to raise taxes, sued to get on the ballot, sued our campaign manager and threatened to sue me for running for mayor while working for veterans at the VA hospital while running for mayor. And, while I am disappointed that I won’t have the honor to serve our local vets as I have, I am willing to step aside from my full-time job to focus on this campaign and bring leadership that all of Peekskill residents can be proud of. Leadership that is positive, collaborative and focuses on our residents, not my own ego.”
Peekskill resident Leesther Brown confirmed that she recently filed a legal complaint, stating that Rainey was violating the Hatch Act by working at the VA.
The Hatch Act, among other things, states that federal employees may not run for partisan political office. Section 2 of a memo to all VA employees, which can be found here, states that:
The Hatch Act restricts certain partisan political activities by Federal employees. Partisan political activity is defined as activity directed at the success or failure of a:
• Political party;
• Candidate for partisan political office; or
• Partisan political group.
Towards the bottom section of the memo, under Prohibited Activities, is the following: “Be candidates for public office in partisan elections.”