Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of State Civil Service Commission v. Angelo V. Cardamone, Appeal No. 2799.
Michael W. Zurat, Mullen & Zurat, for petitioner.
Barbara G. Raup, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, Craig, MacPhail and Palladino. Judges Wilkinson, Jr. and Williams, Jr. did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
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The petitioner, Angelo V. Cardamone, challenges a decision of the State Civil Service Commission
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(Commission) ordering his dismissal from employment because of his political activities.
It is undisputed that the petitioner, during his employment in the classified service as a safety inspector for the Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety, attended a meeting for the election of the chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Committee, served as a vote counter at that meeting and cast a vote as the unrestricted proxy of an absent Democratic committee member. A complaint about his actions was filed with the Commission which instituted an investigation and conducted an evidentiary hearing. The Commission determined that the petitioner had engaged in such political activity as is proscribed in Section 904 of the Civil Service Act (Act), Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. § 741.904, and that Section 906 of that Act, 71 P.S. § 741.906, required the Commission to remove him from his position.
The petitioner contends that he was not informed that such conduct as was involved here could amount to prohibited political activity under the Act. He further argues that his actions in any event were no more than a technical violation of Section 904 and that the penalty of discharge from his employment was too severe for such a de minimis offense.
The petitioner's assertion of unawareness of the prohibited nature of his conduct*fn1 cannot relieve him of culpability therefor. Moreover, the Commission specifically found that he had been advised by his superiors that participation in political activities was
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forbidden, and a review of the record discloses substantial evidence to support that finding.*fn2 Moreover, as the Commission's opinion stated, "[the petitioner] could have hardly believed he was not participating in a political election and violating the Civil Service Act prohibition in accepting a committeewoman's proxy and voting it on behalf of a candidate for chairman of a political party." The record also reveals that the petitioner had himself been a Democratic committeeman and that he had resigned that post when he accepted his civil service position ...