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By Collin Breaux and Lillian Boyd

The Libertarian Party of Orange County (LPOC) hopes to come to a decision early next week regarding their endorsement of City Council Candidate John Alpay, which could have implications surrounding recent controversy in the election.

Alpay has alleged his political opponent, Howard Hart, violated the Hatch Act—a United States federal law that, in general terms, prohibits civil service employees in the executive branch of the federal government from engaging in some forms of political activity. Alpay’s complaint asserts the violation is because Hart is an employee for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Alpay has been endorsed by the Libertarian Party of California and Orange County, thereby making the City Council race—traditionally nonpartisan—a partisan election.

David Naranjo, chair for LPOC, previously told The Capistrano Dispatch that voting members would likely decide on Alpay’s endorsement privately.

Alpay’s endorsement from the state party was deemed null and void on Oct. 5 during an Executive Committee meeting of the party. Chair Mimi Robson was under the “misguided impression” that Alpay, initially not registered as a Libertarian, had changed his registration to Libertarian and was qualified for the endorsement. Robson says she later learned Alpay was not registered as a Libertarian and contacted him for proof of his change of registration. He then submitted proof of the change that was made on Sept. 18.

Hart has removed campaign signs and disabled campaign accounts on social media since the allegation, and said a recommendation of action from the Office of Special Counsel—who Alpay filed the complaint with—likely depends on LPOC’s decision.

Hart and Alpay are the candidates for the seat in District 5 currently held by Brian Maryott, who is running in the 49th Congressional District race against incumbent Rep. Mike Levin.

This is a developing story.

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