Is Lehigh County's controller eligible for office? DA says no
Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin says Glenn Eckhart shouldn't be county controller and has gone to court to oust him from office.
On Friday, Martin filed a civil action, asking Lehigh County Court to declare Eckhart ineligible for the job and to remove him from the position until a successor can be appointed.
Martin says Eckhart is breaking the County Code of Pennsylvania because he was a county commissioner before he was county controller, and there wasn't a two-year gap between the positions.
However, Lehigh County's Home Rule charter doesn't list prohibitions for the office of county controller. Martin said the county can exercise its power over the home rule charter, so therefore the county's rules of eligibility should apply.
Eckhert, of Salisbury Twp., was elected as controller on Nov. 8, 2011, and took office on Jan. 2, 2012.
As of Dec. 30, 2011 Eckhart was a county commissioner, a post he held for six years.
"The public policy reason behind the code's prohibition is to ensure that a controller is not in a position to audit the funds he oversaw as a commissioner," Martin said.
Martin said the question of the legality of Eckhart holding the controller position was brought to his attention by Lehigh County Solicitor Matthew Sorrentino.
Eckhart told 69News that he found out at 4 p.m. Thursday about the D.A.'s announcement.
He says he's consulting an attorney.
Eckhart said that the home rule charter and administrative code do not have any eligbility clause other than residency.
He also said he meets all of the eligibility requirements to be controller.
Eckhart has 20 days to respond to the civil action.
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