Neuman asks AG to investigate state ‘ghost employee’

A state representative from Washington County is pushing the state attorney general to investigate Gov. Tom Corbett’s special education adviser who announced his resignation last week after claims arose that he was a “ghost employee” with no official role.

State Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-North Strabane, wrote to Attorney General Kathleen Kane last Thursday asking her to look into allegations Ronald Tomalis, who previously served as Education Department secretary, did little work while being paid nearly $140,000 as special adviser to the governor for the past 15 months.

He also took issue with allegations that right-to-know requests from various reporters showed no “paper trail” of Tomalis’ recent work history. Neuman also questioned whether state Education Department employees are “purging” emails so they can’t be reviewed.

“The troublesome allegations deserve NOT to be ignored or swept under the table,” Neuman wrote in his letter to Kane. “Taxpayers also deserve better than the policies apparently instituted in one of the state’s largest agencies governing communication that should be part of the public record.”

J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said they received Neuman’s letter last week, but he would not say if they initiated an investigation or plan to do so.

Tomalis announced last week he would be stepping down as Corbett’s special education adviser Aug. 26 to explore other ventures. Tomalis spent two years as education secretary before leaving that job in May 2013 to accept the advisory role for the same salary.

A spokesman for the governor’s office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on Neuman’s letter requesting the investigation.

“Let’s get to the bottom of this to protect taxpayers and end possible practices at the department that run counter to transparency and accountability,” Neuman said.