Despite being admonished by a circuit court judge for failing to adequately provide for his special needs daughter and disabled ex-wife, the executive director of the Alabama Real Estate Commission has failed to pay his court-ordered payments or cover his portion of his daughter’s medical expenses, according to legal filings.
Vaughn Poe, who was appointed to the AREC by former Gov. Robert Bentley in 2017, and appointed later that year by Gov. Kay Ivey to the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee, asked for a hearing in September to settle claims that he’s failed to make several child support and alimony payments and failed to provide other support for their severely disabled daughter. Those claims came after the judge in the case, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Debra Winston, admonished Poe for failing to financially support his ex-wife and their daughter.
It’s unclear if Poe disclosed his divorce to either Bentley or Ivey, or to the AREC board prior to it voting him executive director in 2020. Poe should have filled out a “gubernatorial appointment application” – a form everyone appointed by a governor in Alabama must fill out – prior to his original appointment in 2017. That form requires that he list any potential embarrassing situations, any debts and any civil legal action to which he’s a party.
Since the original divorce filing was entered in Jan. 2016, Poe should have included it and his alleged debts on the form.
Additionally, while Poe’s divorce case and the allegations against him might be considered a private matter for other state agencies, it is altogether different at the AREC because of its positioning overseeing more than 18,000 licensed individuals across the state. Part of the oversight duties of AREC includes ensuring that real estate professionals meet both ethical and moral standards, and the board has suspended and revoked the licenses of agents who failed to meet such standards.
In that light, the details contained in the Poes’ divorce filing could be problematic for Vaughn Poe. In addition to the allegations of failing to pay medical bills and other debts, he acknowledged in testimony before the court, according to the legal filings, that he rarely visited his daughter, who was born with myriad health issues. The Poes’ daughter suffers from cerebral palsy, hydro encephalitis and bilateral bracheoplexis. She is confined to a wheelchair and requires nearly constant care and frequent therapy sessions.
“(Erika Poe) testified that the Husband had only visited the child ‘six or seven times’ since 2010 and that he had not seen the child at all since September of 2016,” one filing read. “(Vaughn Poe) admitted that he only visited the child several times per year. He testified that it was ‘cumbersome’ to see (the child) and that everything was ‘drama and frustration.’”
At the time of the filing in May 2018, Vaughn Poe hadn’t seen his daughter since 2016, the filing states.
Making matters worse, Ericka Poe sustained severe injuries in a 2010 car accident – she broke her neck, back, left leg and hands – leaving her permanently disabled and requiring years of recovery.
During that time, Ericka Poe was living near Tuscaloosa, and Vaughn Poe, who was living and working in Montgomery, would spend the weekends with his wife and daughter.
Following the accident, Vaughn Poe’s visits became increasingly rare, according to the legal filings. Ericka Poe’s family, instead, began to help with the care of the couple’s daughter, including providing financial support. According to the court records, Vaughn Poe was not providing regular financial support during that time.
Judge Winston took Vaughn Poe to task, telling him he needed to “step up” and be a father, and she called it “unfair” that Ericka Poe and her family were forced to absorb nearly all of the medical and other costs for raising the couple’s daughter, according to the filings.
The legal filings also noted that Vaughn Poe was making more than $8,700 per month and owned a farm in Hale County.
Judge Winston ordered him to pay $1,250 per month in child support and another $500 per month in alimony. She also required him to pay back-child support and to assist in the purchase of a specially-equipped van to accommodate his daughter’s wheelchair.
According to online records, Vaughn Poe has made regular child support and alimony payments since the ruling in 2018. However, the July 2021 filing states he still owes more than $3,700 in back-child support, owes another $1,500 in alimony, has failed and refused to cover half of his daughter’s medical expenses, never provided the court-ordered money for the van and failed to provide the money to pay for Ericka Poe’s attorney, as ordered by the court.
Questions remain unanswered: Did Poe fill out a gubernatorial appointment application, and did he do it honestly? Was he vetted by the two governors who appointed him? Did AREC vet him before hiring him, and before making him the judge of integrity over 18,000 in the state?