^
Keep New Times Free
4

Department of Education Flack Resigns After 'Vote Diane Douglas' Email Scandal

A top official at the Arizona Department of Education resigned after an email was sent to all employees urging them to vote for Superintendent Diane Douglas in her re-election bid.EXPAND
A top official at the Arizona Department of Education resigned after an email was sent to all employees urging them to vote for Superintendent Diane Douglas in her re-election bid.
Joseph Flaherty

A top official at the Arizona Department of Education resigned last month after a staffer emailed department employees encouraging them to vote for Superintendent Diane Douglas in last month's primary election.

Dan Godzich was hired as ADE's associate superintendent of communication last summer, even though he lied on his resume about his college degree. He resigned from his $85,000-a-year job on August 27, four days after the internal email was sent.

An image in the newsletter showed Godzich and Douglas wearing capes at a Halloween event. "Vote Diane Douglas," the newsletter stated, "The Wonder Woman of Education."

The internal newsletter to all employees appeared to breach a state law that prohibits the use of public resources for the purposes of influencing an election.

According to chief of staff Michael Bradley, the email was part of a regular newsletter circulated internally within the department, known as "The Apple Newsletter." The message was drafted and sent by a communications assistant, Patti Hultstrand, he said.

When confronted about the newsletter, Hultstrand said that she was unaware of the statute forbidding the use of public resources to sway an election, Bradley said. She was fired the same day that the email was sent.

Douglas emailed employees approximately an hour and a half after the email was sent, the Arizona Republic reported, to tell them that the newsletter was not approved before it was sent. She described the newsletter as "wholly inappropriate."

The superintendent and Bradley were unhappy with Godzich because he did not inform his staffers of the election-law requirements, Bradley said.

"What we said to Dan was that we were dissatisfied that he had not informed his staff of what the rules are, and that there was no formal process for 'The Apple' to be reviewed by him before it went out to the staff," Bradley said in an interview.

However, Douglas did not ask Godzich point-blank for his resignation in the wake of the scandal, according to Bradley.

When asked whether Godzich gave a formal reason for his resignation, Bradley said, "Not that I'm aware of."

An ADE spokesperson denied a public records request from Phoenix New Times for documents pertaining to Godzich's departure, citing the confidentiality of personnel records under Arizona Administrative Code.

Requests for comment to Godzich and Hultstrand were not immediately returned.

The Arizona Department of Education communications director wrote on his resume that he had a degree from Hunter College in New York. He does not.
The Arizona Department of Education communications director wrote on his resume that he had a degree from Hunter College in New York. He does not.
Arizona Department of Education

A former Republican adviser on education policy in the Arizona Legislature, Godzich previously worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the George H.W. Bush administration.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Douglas hired Godzich at ADE in June 2017. Shortly thereafter, New Times reported that contrary to his resume, an ADE press release, and his personal LinkedIn page, Godzich never graduated from Hunter College in New York. He does not have a college degree.

Godzich attributed his misleading resume to an innocent error.

Douglas lost her re-election bid to former California congressman Frank Riggs in the crowded Republican primary last month, and as a result she will leave office in January.

The department will not hire someone to replace Godzich in the role, according to Bradley. Instead, his duties will fall under the government relations department. 

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.