Arlen, the officer with the transit agency serving Philadelphia and its suburbs, said he was blindsided by the law when he tried for run for the suburban Pennsbury school board last year.
Federal funds were not only used to train his dog, named HHynes, but also paid part of Arlen's salary. The dog is named after a New York firefighter who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I was a little taken aback," said Arlen, age 45 and a policeman for 22 years. "I was trying to make a difference for my kids and kids of the school district."
Terrence Hurley, 52, a state port financial official in Albany, N.Y., was knocked out of a race for his county's legislative body last year because a dock was repaired with a $5.1 million federal stimulus grant.
"It's not like I'm hired as a clerk to administer the program," he said.
Hurley said he tried to get his wife's name on the ballot to replace his but was told by election officials it was too late.
Sheriff Don Schneider, of Charlevoix County, Mich., had a better result. He was investigated by the Office of Special Counsel and was allowed to run in 2008 for the office he now holds.
At the time he was undersheriff. He gave up authority over personnel and spending when he decided to run and quit playing a decision-making role. The special counsel's office ruled he could run, Schneider said.
"The act is being used by opponents to try and destroy the other side," he said. In his election, he added, "a number of people saw through the cloud."
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