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Dial’s “laundry list” of who will appear in Pouncey smear investigation

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A “laundry list” of political figures and State employees received a letter on July 17, from Senator Gerald Dial requesting their appearance on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at 1:00 pm, to investigate the false ethics complaints filed against Dr. Craig Pouncey.

The letter states, “I write to you in my role as Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Confidentiality Issues Involving Complaints Filed with the State Ethics Commission which was created pursuant to Act 2016-456 (SJR 6).”

Dial, who helped draft the State’s Ethics Codes, is determined to uncover who used a bogus ethics complaint to cheat Pouncey out of a fair chance to win selection as Superintendent of the Alabama Department of Education.

A report, authorized and accepted by the State Board of Education, found that at least five individuals played a role in what is described as a scheme to derail Pouncey’s candidacy for State Superintendent. The scheme, according to the report, was hatched and executed by ALSDE board member Mary Scott Hunter, then-Interim Superintendent Philip Cleveland, and ALSDE attorneys Juliana Teixeira Dean, James R. Ward, III, and Susan Tudor Crowther. The internal investigation also found unnamed individuals who may have participated in the plot.

“Most regrettably, these five participants have caused grave and serious harm,” the report states, “and cast a major shadow on the veracity and credibility of the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education (through no fault of the majority) that still lingers to the present day,” according to the report.

Hunter and the others have “lawyered up,” while denying their actions were in any way illegal or unethical. However, lawmakers like Dial, and some in the higher echelon of the justice system, are expressing concern that ethics complaints or threats of ethics complaints are being used to smear or intimidate politicos and State employees.

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As an example: almost immediately after State Superintendent Michael Sentance tasked staff attorney Michael Meyer with conducting an internal investigation into events surrounding an anonymous ethics complaint against Pouncey, he discovered that he and his wife were also targets of a proposed ethics complaint by Julianna Dean, whom the report found was also involved in the Pouncey “scheme.”

Dial’s committee, which consisted of three Senators and three Representatives, met four times between October and January. Dial said his committee interviewed at least 16 members of the State Board of Education and the Alabama Ethics Commission about the Pouncey smear but was not able to reach a conclusion.

Armed with new information provided by the ALSDE, Dial will once again seek the truth concerning the false ethics report.

In Dial’s July 17 letter, he reminds those invitees, “[P]ursuant to Senate Rule 49, there is an obligation on the part of State government officials and employees to cooperate with these types of proceedings.”

Mr. Thomas Albritton
Executive Director, Ethics Commission

Mr. David Pope, IT Director
State Department of Education

Mr. Dee Fowler, Chief of Staff
State Board of Education

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Mr. James Ward
Associate General Counsel
State Board of Education

Ms. Juliana Dean
General Counsel
State Board of Education

Mr. Michael Meyers
Office of General Counsel
State Board of Education

Dr. Robert Bentley
Tuscaloosa, Al

Mr. Matthew Brown
State Board of Education

Ms. Betty Peters
State Board of Education

Ms. Stephanie Bell
State Board of Education

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Ms. Cynthia Sanders McCarty
State Board of Education

Ms. Mary Scott Hunter
State Board of Education

Mr. Hugh Evans
Ethics Commission

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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