Most readers are well aware of the very, very messy search process that brought Mike Sentance to Alabama in 2016 as state superintendent. The stench got so bad that state senators Gerald Dial and Quinton Ross conducted an investigation into what took place.
From the get go, attention was focused on board member Mary Scott Hunter of Huntsville and the very active role she played in getting the Ethics Commission involved. I will never forget the moment when Hunter told Senator Dial that she “did not know the rules” when he probed about how the Ethics Commission works. There was a collective gasp throughout the room.
In February 2017, Jefferson County superintendent Craig Pouncey filed legal action against Hunter and several others. This action got the attention of the entire education community, from one end of the state to the other.
Hunter was elected to the board in 2010, was re-elected in 2014 and gave up her seat in 2018 to run for state senate. She lost to Sam Givhan. She had a tendency to be controversial and never shied from an interview or TV camera. From the outset of her tenure, she seemed to be constantly looking for another political office to run for. In fact, she was already an announced candidate for Lt. Governor when she dropped down to run for state senate in 2018.
And now, more than two years after Pouncey filed his suit, we may be seeing the light at the end of tunnel as this case has been assigned to Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Jimmy Pool and should be heard within the next few months.
All of which finally brings us to the point of this post.
Whenever a state agency wishes to contract for outside services, their request must be submitted to the Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee. While the committee can not stop contracts, they can delay them. The next committee meeting is March 7.
One of the contracts up for review is a request from the state department of education for $150,000 for Montgomery attorney Lee Copeland to “Mr. Copeland and his office will contribute to the defense of Mary Scott Hunter in her individual capacity in the case of Warren Craig Pouncey vs. Mary Scott Hunter.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
We are going to take $150,000 from education funding to defend a one-time school board member for actions she took ON HER OWN to influence the selection process for a state school superintendent? It was established without a doubt during the legislative hearings that Hunter ignored proper procedure and protocol in this affair. In fact, one legislator asked her if she was an agency head. Hunter said she was not. So the legislator asked why she was acting like one. Hunter did not answer.
My last job before retiring in January 2011 was with the state of Alabama. I knew what my job required and did not. Had I robbed a bank one day on my lunch break, would the state have paid for an attorney to defend me?
It’s disgraceful enough that a state school board member took actions that have led to legal action being brought against them. And asking the taxpayers to pay for their defense is nothing but rubbing salt in our wound.