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Finance Embroiled In Investigation

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Varying stories about a law-enforcement raid on the State Department of Finance have been circulating in Montgomery and on the Internet.

According to several sources with knowledge of the events that occurred at the Information Services Division, law-enforcement’s seizure is related to a recently hired contractor, who was not properly vetted as required. The contractor had been given access to the State IT network without necessary clearance, which can, in some cases, lead to federal investigation.

Alabama’s system is a flat network, which is considered a cost-saving measure, but poses security risks because traffic travels through limited switches leaving all parts of the network open once it is entered from any point.

According to our sources, the trouble began when recently hired Chief Information Officer, James Nolin, and assistant finance director, Rex McDowell, may have ignored a warning from ALEA regarding a certain contractor with a questionable past.

ALEA has stated the FBI is conducting a routine audit at the request of Gov. Robert Bentley. However, sources close to the Governor say, the FBI’s involvement is the result of hiring the contractor and not a routine audit.

Several individuals with knowledge of the incident said Nolin was fired last Friday, and McDowell was placed on mandatory administrative leave, pending an investigation into the hiring. Reportedly, McDowell hired Nolin, who bought in the contractor in question.

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McDowell and Acting Finance Direct, Bill Newton, were instrumental in the $47 million no-bid contract STAARS program, which reportedly is still not functioning properly.

This story continues to develop and rumors continue to spread.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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