Education department releases records to show Corbett adviser actually worked
HARRISBURG — The state Department of Education released eight months of records on Thursday that show when the governor’s higher education adviser entered and exited a state parking garage, a move that’s part of an effort to quash criticism that he was a no-show employee making $139,000 a year.
Ronald Tomalis held the Education post for 15 months since resigning as state Education secretary in May 2013, a job he held since early 2011.
Records from 2014 show Tomalis’ vehicle entering and exiting the garage 133 days during the eight-month period. Records for 2013 were not available from the Harrisburg Parking Authority, which oversees a garage some state employees use, said Tim Eller, a department spokesman.
The release comes a day after Senate Education Chairman Mike Folmer said acting Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq showed him records that convinced him that Tomalis was not a “ghost employee,” as Democrats opposing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election bid have charged. Corbett oversees the department. Tomalis was his first secretary of the agency.
Campaign for a Fresh Start, an arm of Democrat Tom Wolf’s gubernatorial campaign, urged the Department of Education on Thursday to release the records. Wolf faces Corbett in November.
After the department provided them to the Tribune-Review, Mike Mikus, a Fresh Start spokesman, said, “It doesn’t prove any work was done. It proves his car was parked. He’s still special adviser to the governor, and he never met with the governor.”
Corbett’s calendar from May 2013 through mid-July of this year showed no Tomalis meeting entries.
Katie McGinty, Fresh Start chair, said the “records raise even more questions, such as why Tomalis did not even bother to show up to the office so frequently. In 160 workdays, Ron Tomalis did not show up to the office 34 times and rarely was in the office for a full day.
“It is time for Tom Corbett to clean house in the Department of Education,” McGinty said.
The Corbett campaign fired back. “Instead of trying to manufacture scandals to smear Gov. Tom Corbett, perhaps millionaire Tom Wolf should start manufacturing some details on his pathetically lacking campaign platform that demonstrates that he is in no way qualified to run a state with 12.7 million people,” said Chris Pack, communications director for Corbett’s campaign.
Criticism of Tomalis’ workload is based, in part, on the scant records the department provided: five emails he sent, an average of a phone call a day and no reports or written proposals the department would release.
Folmer, R-Lebanon County, said he resented insinuations by Fresh Start that he was part of a cover-up attempting to help Corbett, who oversees the Department of Education.
“I’m not the bad guy in this,” Folmer said. “I told them (agency officials) to share everything they shared with me.”
Repeated attempts to reach Tomalis over several days have been unsuccessful. Tomalis collected the same salary he received as Education secretary for the 15 months he was Corbett’s adviser. It’s the same as Dumaresq’s salary.
His resignation as adviser is effective on Tuesday.
The impact of the flap in the gubernatorial campaign is measured in the amount of time the Corbett administration and campaign have had to spend defending Tomalis, said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University. “Every day for him (Corbett) that he doesn’t seize the advantage is a day Tom Wolf wins,” said Leckrone.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405.