Jun 26, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterWyoming Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau has released a letter calling on Senate president Tony Ross to convene a special investigatory committee before the Wyoming Legislature's Management Council.
The letter outlined the much anticipated groundwork for yet more investigation and possible action against Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill.
"I have been requested by more than a majority of members of the House of Representatives to empanel a special investigatory committee for the purpose of further examination of the matters disclosed in the MacPherson investigative report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction," Lubnau wrote. "I respectfully request Management Council appoint the House Rules Committee to be the special investigatory committee. The committee is established primarily by rule, and contains within its membership, the senior leadership of the House of Representatives."
The House Rules Committee includes four individuals who sponsored Senate File 104, and all 13 members of the committee voted for the legislation in February. SF 104 was passed this year, altering the duties of the Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction and establishing a governor-appointed director of the Department of Education.
Hill was quick to respond to the appointment.
"The 'independent' inquiry team spent the last four months, hundreds of hours of employee time, and over $100,000 in outside costs investigating me," Hill said. "This was not the first legislator-directed-taxpayer-
funded investigation of my administration. ... In 2012, the Legislature paid two individuals about $250,000 to conduct an investigation. Nothing came of that. ... After several audits and investigation after investigation, it seems that some of our legislators are intent on conducting investigations until they find something that they like."
The various audits and investigations have cost almost $500,000 in public funds, according to published reports, and Lubnau has called for more paid consultants to work with the committee.
"With investigation after investigation nearly from the day I took office, it is obvious that the next investigation is not being taken up with pure motives," Hill said. "The Legislature is engaging in a witch hunt with the goal of achieving political ends."
Lubnau made a few final requests to Ross in his letter.
"I would request that all formal committee proceedings be authorized to be streamed on the Internet," Lubnau wrote. "I would also request the committee be authorized to contract with consulting expertise necessary to have a full airing of all sides of the issue. Finally, I have been asked to authorize members of the House who would like to attend and observe the committee meetings to be allowed per diem to observe the meetings."
The House Rules Committee includes: Mary Throne, H.D. 11; Tim Stubson, H.D. 56; Tom Lubnau, H.D. 31; and Kermit Brown, H.D. 14 --all sponsors of SF 104 --as well as Rosie Berger, H.D. 51; Gregg Blikre, H.D. 53; Cathy Connolly, H.D. 13; Mike Greear, H.D. 27; Michael Madden, H.D. 40; Glen Moniz, H.D. 46; John Patton, H.D. 29; Ruth Petroff, H.D. 16; and Dan Zwonitzer, H.D. 43. The members represent one-third of the 39 house votes cast in support of SF 104, while none of the 20 dissenting votes is represented on the committee.
Hill is suing Rep. Rosie Berger for libel stemming from a white paper released to the Legislature early this year.
Hill had addressed her response as coming from Salem, Wyo., referencing her supporters' opinion that this ongoing process is simply a "witch hunt."
Editor's note: Staff writer Randy Tucker was the technical director for Arapahoe School District 38 in 2011 when a reading program there was instituted under State Superintendent Cindy Hill. He has first-hand knowledge of the program, and some of his reporting for The Ranger on the Hill story is based on that experience.
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