by Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Wednesday, after 37 years of public service, Alabama Ethics Commission director Jim Sumner announced in a letter to the commission members that he would retire, effective October 1.
In the letter, Sumner stated, “My primary goal in my service here has been to make a difference in the ethical environment of the state. I have given the job and the commission every ounce of my ability, my dedication and my energy.”
While Sumner attended Samford University Law School, he was employed by then-Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party Robert Vance. In 1974, after law school, he became assistant attorney general to Attorney General Bill Baxley. He served in that position for four years.
In the 1980s, Sumner served as chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley. He then served as an executive with the Alabama Hospital Association. For 10 years before taking the position with the Ethics Commission, he was Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for external affairs at the University of Alabama.
Sumner has been director of the Ethics Commission for 17 years.
Sumner came under scrutiny in recent months involving some of Speaker Mike Hubbard’s contracts with his clients. It is believed that Sumner is cooperating with the Lee County Grand Jury investigation in relation to those contracts.
The Ethics Commission will select a replacement for Sumner. However, the Senate must approve their choice. Since Senators will not meet until March 2015, an interim director will be appointed.