State senator seeks records on former Corbett education adviser
The ranking Democrat on the state Senate Education Committee is going on a records hunt on the employment of Gov. Tom Corbett’s former education adviser Ron Tomalis.
Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester County, filed a Right-to-Know request seeking documents with information about Tomalis when he was Corbett’s special adviser on higher education. Tomalis served his last day on Aug. 26, resigning amid allegations that he was a “ghost employee” who was paid but did little work.
Tomalis did not return a phone message.
Tim Eller, spokesman for the Department of Education, said the requests will be processed according to the Right-to-Know Law. The department has a three-page memo on implemented recommendations from a higher education commission that released a report in November 2012, he said.
Tomalis worked more than 120 days in and out of the office during his tenure, Eller said, and the department has released corroborating records.
He was secretary of Education before becoming special adviser of higher education to Corbett, a Republican. He kept his nearly $140,000 salary during the transition.
Dinniman said he asked for a report in the spring from an internal working group at the Pennsylvania Department of Education that Tomalis reportedly led. The report was designed to follow up on findings from a committee of higher education professionals, the senator said.
He said he sought it for its potential usefulness in a planned hearing on possible changes to the state school system. But the report was not turned over, he said, prompting his Right-to-Know request.
“I shouldn’t have to be waiting five months for a document,” Dinniman said. “The public has a right to know any information produced, and if nothing was done, we have a right to know that, too.”
Dinniman seeks meeting minutes that the internal working group might have kept and names of the members involved. He is seeking a “summary of actions” they reportedly implemented, according to an email Dinniman said he received from a department official.
Responding to allegations that Tomalis was a ghost employee, the Department of Education released five emails and phone records showing he made about one call per day from May 2013 through July.
The Campaign for a Fresh Start, the de facto campaign committee for Corbett’s Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Tom Wolf, filed for information regarding Tomalis’ employment. That request for documents included an employee contract, performance reviews, progress reports and development and improvement plans.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].