Education aide to Pennsylvania governor resigns amid controversy

HARRISBURG Pa. Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:03pm EDT

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HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - A top education consultant to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett resigned on Tuesday amid allegations that he was a so-called ghost employee who did little work for his six-figure salary.

Ron Tomalis served as the Republican governor's first secretary of education from 2011 to 2013 and acted as the administration's point person during the child sex abuse scandal of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Tomalis, 51, became an educational consultant to Corbett in the spring of 2013, keeping the $140,000 annual salary plus benefits he had earned as a Cabinet member.

Late last month, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Tomalis appeared to do little work for his salary.

Tomalis' office calendar showed 20 weeks with little or no activity, telephone logs with few calls and a total of five emails during his entire stint as a consultant, the newspaper reported.

Also, there were no state reimbursement records for travel for his job, it said.

A television station in Harrisburg reported that state employees hung a nameplate on Tomalis’ office the day before acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq was due to meet with a reporter.

Dumaresq referred to the nameplate during the interview as evidence Tomalis was an actual employee, ABC 27 television reported.

In his resignation letter released to the public by Dumaresq's office, Tomalis wrote that "given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position."

In a statement, Corbett thanked Tomalis for his work.

“Ron has been committed to Pennsylvania’s education system since the early days of my administration,” Corbett said. “He has worked closely with Secretary Dumaresq and the Department of Education to shape programs and policies that are in the best interest of students."

Gene Stilp, a good-government advocate who has filed formal complaints against Tomalis with the state Ethics Commission, said Tomalis was becoming a liability to Corbett’s reelection campaign.

Corbett trailed Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, a businessman, by 13 points in poll results for November's election released late last month by CBS News and the New York Times.

The governor has struggled with poor approval ratings for much of his first term.

"I predict this will haunt Corbett until the election," Stilp said.

(Reporting by David DeKok; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Beech)

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