Sponsored by

Local

Note: This story is more than 5 years old.

Az schools chief endorses Trump using taxpayer-funded email

Diane Douglas, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced Friday that she was endorsing Donald Trump for president. That wasn't a big step for the Tea Party acolyte. Unfortunately for Douglas, the email was sent from an Arizona Department of Education email address — a pretty clear violation of state laws barring using public resources to influence elections.

The email, sent just after 4:30 p.m. Friday, was headed "State Superintendent Diane Douglas Endorses Donald Trump for President."

It was sent from the azed.gov email address of Charles Tack, Douglas' chief spokesman. The mass email was sent to the Department of Education's media list.

Arizona state law bars elected officials and public employees from using government resources to campaign, whether for themselves or anyone else:

A. Notwithstanding any other law, this state and special taxing districts and any public agency, department, board, commission, committee, council or authority shall not spend or use public resources to influence an election, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, materials, equipment, buildings, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages and personnel and any other thing of value of the public entity.

Violations of the statute, ARS 16-192, can result in civil penalties of $5,000.

"The statement released today was personal," Tack said when asked about the propriety of Douglas campaigning for Trump via a Department of Education email. "If a mistake was made, our Chief of Staff Michael Bradley takes full responsibility as he failed to communicate that it was to be sent out on her personal letterhead using personal resources as opposed to via the department."

"The intention was not to influence the election but rather to inform the press," Tack said.

Thanks for reading TucsonSentinel.com. Tell your friends to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tack didn't explain why at least two public employees, on the clock during a work day, were involved in spreading word of Douglas' personal political views.

Douglas' two-paragraph email was nothing more than an endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate:

(Phoenix, Ariz., Sept. 2, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced she is endorsing Donald Trump in his campaign for President of the United States.

“I was pleased to attend Mr. Trump’s event Wednesday night, and I am delighted to support him as the Republican nominee for President of the United States,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Mr. Trump shares my belief that the federal government’s role in education needs to be reduced rather than expanded. I look forward to hearing more about his plans to empower states so that we can focus on helping our children become successful citizens of this great nation.”

The Republican state schools chief won a close election in 2014. Almost immediately, a liberal group announced plans to recall her after the mandatory six-month waiting period, but was unsuccessful. The "Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas" failed to gather enough signatures in 2015 to force a recall election — they would've needed 366,000, but only gathered about 40,000 signatures.

- 30 -
have your say   

2 comments on this story

2
11 comments
Sep 6, 2016, 5:48 am
-0 +1

I find it extremely difficult to believe that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction was unaware of ARS 16-192 Sec. A. “Notwithstanding any other law, this state and special taxing districts and any public agency, department, board, commission, committee, council or authority shall not spend or use public resources to influence an election, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, materials, equipment, buildings, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages and personnel and any other thing of value of the public entity.” It is common knowledge from School Board members to employees, and as a former School Board member, I know it is in District Policy and AZ. School Board Policy.  The fact that the email went out at 4:30 pm on Friday, just before the Labor Day holiday weekend, makes me even more suspicious that maybe she hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. Now her Chief of Staff will be hung out to dry.  Oh, by the way, the use of personnel is also prohibited by the same Statute, Ms. Douglas. Shame on you.

1
Sep 2, 2016, 10:54 pm
-0 +1

Shall we remind the employees of the Department of Education that any work emails regarding religious pronouncements and political endorsements from top level supervisors and elected officials may be ignored and deleted immediately without threat of retribution or penalty?

Naaaah. That would take all of the sport out of it.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Read all of TucsonSentinel.com's
coronavirus reporting here »

Click image to enlarge

James Anderson/Cronkite News

Douglas in 2015