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Lubnau to address Republicans on Hill probe

Jul 26, 2013 - By Bob Moen, The Associated Press

The Wyoming House Speaker has empaneled a special committee to investigate the state superintendent.

CHEYENNE -- State House Speaker Tom Lubnau will address the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee this weekend and try to answer questions about the legislative investigation into schools Superintendent Cindy Hill.

"I think the question is ... why did 42 members of the House call for an investigation of Superintendent Hill?" Lubnau, R-Gillette, said Wednesday.

Lubnau has empaneled a special committee to investigate Hill's administration of the state Education Department over the last two years.

In a recent report from an inquiry team appointed by Gov. Matt Mead, agency employees and others raised concerns about possible misuse of funds, improper hiring practices, incomplete accounting for how money was spent, nepotism and bizarre management practices that some considered sexual harassment.

Depending on the committee's findings and recommendations, Hill could face impeachment before the full House. She has said impeachment is a foregone conclusion and that she is the subject of a "witch hunt" despite no concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

Hill, who was stripped of her authority over the agency by a new state law enacted this past winter, has denied any wrongdoing and is challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Since Hill is a Republican, and the Legislature is dominated by Republicans, the situation has caused an intraparty fight that has carried over into the Central Committee, which is the party's governing body outside the state convention and consists of county and state party leaders.

In April, the Central Committee voted 40-32 to approve a resolution backing repeal of the law that took away many of the superintendent's powers and duties. A petition drive to repeal the law failed to gain enough signatures.

Central Committee member Karl Allred, of Evanston, has been among the most vocal supporters of Hill.

Allred considers the investigation into Hill a waste of money engineered by people with "a personal vendetta against her."

"I don't see the point of going on, except for the fact that they want to go ahead and impeach her," he said.

Allred said he invited Lubnau to address the Central Committee and explain "why they are continuing to waste our money."

Lubnau said he will attempt to explain the breadth of concern among lawmakers about Hill's administration of an agency that oversees an education budget of more than $1 billion a year and is key to Wyoming's current K-12 education reform efforts.

Lubnau noted that 42 members of the 60-member House supported the investigation into Hill.

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