Jan Brewer caught the Arizona political scene by surprise this week when she fired the man who has been cleaning up the corruption in her administration for the last two years.
Brian McNeil was appointed by the governor to serve as Director of the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) on November 1, 2012. He had a long history of service in the state government, including previous stints in both Brewer’s and Fife Symington’s administrations. His agency, ADOA, is responsible for providing support services to the state government and includes the Department of Human Resources.
The corruption investigator had integrity and high standards.
Director McNeil is a military man who is known to hold employees to high standards. He spent over twenty years in the military, including two tours of duty in Iraq, and is still a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Seems like a great fit for a conservative state government, right? Well, that depends on whether you’re talking about what conservatives say or what they do.
When Brewer appointed McNeil as Director of ADOA, she said:
I’ve known Brian since my days in the State Senate. He has always been a devoted and honorable public servant, and very few can match his knowledge of Arizona policy and government operations.
Brian played a critical role in helping guide my administration through some of our State’s most difficult times. I’m thankful for his willingness to now rejoin us in leading ADOA into the future.
Was he a little too willing? The new director didn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves and start cleaning up the administration. But now he’s been summarily dismissed and no one is talking about why. The excuse is that it is a “personnel matter”. McNeil knows all about ‘personnel matters’, having spent the last two years exposing the shady behavior of some of the political appointees in Brewer’s administration.
The subjects of investigation were Brewer political appointees.
Last year, McNeil investigated Jesse Hernandez, a political appointee with no relevant experience who Brewer put into the position of Chairman of the Board of Executive Clemency — to the tune of $84,000 a year. The investigation resulted in nine allegations against him. The most egregious was offering his equally unqualified co-worker/girlfriend a raise of $21,000 a year. Hernandez resigned on the heels of the investigation.
The next target surfaced early this year. State Parks Director Bryan Martyn, also a political appointee, hired his three sons (the makings of a t.v. show) to work for him. Martyn himself had no parks experience. His only qualification was his friendship with Brewer. He got only a slap on the hand for his nepotism — a two-week suspension that cost him over $5200 in lost pay. That’s right, he was — and still is — making over $135,000 a year. The person who did get booted was a Human Resources Officer, DiAnne Baune, personnel adviser to the parks department.
Most recently, McNeil forced an administrator of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) to, uh … retire. Administrator Jim Hacking was found to have given secret raises to his staff without Department of Administration approval — raises of up to 27%. A pretty sweet deal for his staff.
And, as it turns out, a pretty sweet deal for Hacking. After all, the PSPRS board members are all Brewer appointees. Plus, the chairman, Brian Tobin, is the brother of Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin. So Hacking’s ‘punishment’ was — drum roll, please — a severance package of over $107,000, and an annual pension of $86,704 at taxpayer expense of course.
Too devoted and honorable?
Cronyism pays, but only Brian McNeil seemed to miss the memo about playing along. This ‘devoted and honorable public servant’ is now on the outs, presumably for being too honorable and devoted.
But come on now, after nearly 30 years of service with Republican administrations, didn’t the guy know the devil for whom he was working? If he didn’t before, he surely must know now.