Interim Police Chief Richard Del Toro Cleared of Alleged Hatch Act Violation

Interim Police Chief Richard Del Toro Cleared of Alleged Hatch Act Violation

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
June 11, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL—Amidst a looming—and dramatic—sheriff election, interim Police Chief Richard Del Toro is innocent of alleged Hatch Act violations, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel told him in a letter, prompted by their months-long investigation kickstarted by an anonymous January complaint.

“This letter is in response to a complaint the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) received alleging that you are violating the Hatch Act by being a candidate in the 2024 partisan election for St. Lucie County Sheriff,” the letter begins. Erica Hamrick, Deputy Chief of the Hatch Act Unit at OSC, continues, “OSC investigated this allegation and as explained below, concluded that you are not violating the Hatch Act.”

The remainder of the two-page letter lists the allegations in the debunked complaint and systematically dismisses each claim against Del Toro, closing with, “OSC has concluded that you did not violate the Hatch Act as alleged. Therefore, we are closing this matter without further action.”

In December 2023, Del Toro came under fire for releasing an e-vite alleging that law enforcement leaders backed his candidacy for St. Lucie County Sheriff. One said she did not—citing the 1939 Hatch Act preventing unelected officials from using their "official authority" to "affect the results of an election or a nomination for office," the National Sheriffs Association states.

Another listed leader said that while he supported Del Toro personally, in deference to the Hatch Act he didn't want his name on a flier listing his endorsement.

A month later, an anonymous complaint alleging that Del Toro could not run for sheriff nor serve as interim chief because he violated the Hatch Act was filed with the OSC. Sources close to Del Toro's campaign believe that embattled, DeSantis-appointed Sheriff Keith Pearson—his Republican primary opponent for the 2024 election—orchestrated the "trumped-up" charges against Del Toro.


Pearson is no stranger to controversy—to the point that some have speculated that Republicans do not want him to be their nominee come August. In the 2020 race for St. Lucie Sheriff, he was the subject of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation into allegations of election fraud, in which he was found to have facilitated a “ghost” candidate scheme to help incumbent Democrat Sheriff Ken Mascara.

Interestingly, Mascara suddenly retired last year after 23 years—causing DeSantis to appoint Pearson in his stead until the 2024 elections.

The FDLE Investigative Summary states “Keith Pearson, knowingly conspired, confederated, abetted, and aided Ken Mascara while he was the incumbent St. Lucie County Sheriff…to siphon votes from established Republican candidate Rich Williams in the 2020 St. Lucie County Sheriff Race.”

Pearson was asked about his role in the ghost candidacy scheme at a press conference shortly after being appointed Sheriff in December.  Pearson responded, stuttering, “The report speaks for itself.”

A reporter followed up, asking if Pearson thought he did anything wrong in the 2020 election scandal, to which Pearson said, “Nah, I don’t.”

Keith Pearson, Richard Del Toro, Rich Williams, and Preston DiFrancesco will face off for the Republican nomination for St. Lucie County Sheriff on August 20th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 5th,

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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