By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A letter from Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) asks Attorney General Luther Strange, to launch an investigation into the recent events surrounding the selection of the new Superintendent of Education.
During the process, an anonymous letter containing emails as far back as 2009, including thin allegations against candidate, Dr. Craig Pouncey, was sent to the Ethics Commission by Juliana T. Dean, General Counsel for ASDE, at the urging of Board member, Mary Scott Hunter, according to sources inside ASDE and others close to the situation. The Ethics Commission’s General Counsel, Hugh Evans, in turn, sent a letter to Dean, verifying receipt of the anonymous letter, resulting in a cloud of suspicions, which still hang over the process.
The board selected Michael Sentance, a Massachusetts education consultant, to lead the Alabama Department of Education, much to the dismay of many educators around the State.
Dial questions if the “intervention of both the Ethics Commission and the State Department of Education Board member(s) may have biased the selection process.”
He also asks:
1. How did an anonymous ethic complaint filed with the Ethics Commission become public?
2. Who gained access to the computers at the State Department of Education and retrieved individuals’ emails?
3. Is this legal?
4. Why did the Ethics Commission office release a letter to the State Education Board attorney, concerning and anonymous complaint (one that has been proven false) against candidate Craig Pouncey?
5. Is it legal for a State elected Board of Education member, or any elected officer, to file an anonymous complaint, and then take action to make that complaint public?
6. What, if any, ethics laws were violated, and by whom, during the selection process of our new Superintendent of Education?
7. What is the recourse for any violations?
In closing Dial writes, “The mere suggestion of an Ethics Commission inquiry has proven to be a most powerful political tool with the ability to determine the outcome of appointments and elections. There must be consequences that do not reward such tactics.”