Diane Douglas Recall Group Says Department of Education Officials Broke the Law

The group trying to recall Arizona Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas filed a complaint with the state Attorney General's Office this week after an educational nonprofit passed on an e-mail it received from Douglas’ chief of staff, Michael Bradley.

Members of the Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas contend that Bradley's e-mail to the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators may violate at least five Arizona laws, and they want the AG’s office to investigate.

“Basically what happened is we were forwarded this e-mail, a very intimidating email, and we determined there were several possible violations of the Arizona Revised Statues, so we thought it was prudent to send to [Attorney General] Mark Brnovich to see,” Max Goshert, recall campaign chairman, says.
The complaint comes a week after the group officially launched its campaign to recall Douglas, who won the election last November by a small margin and has remained a polarizing political figure ever since. Organizers now have less than three months to collect at least 366,128 valid signatures to get a recall question put on the ballot in a special election.

“We believe she should be recalled because she’s not fulfilling the duties of her office, because she doesn’t have a concern for students, and because she lacks honesty, integrity, and transparency,” Goshert told New Times recently. "She’s been engaged in political battles her entire superintendency just trying to increase the power of her position."

He believes the fact that this e-mail was sent by her right-hand man further proves the point.

“I can understand Michael Bradley being curious to learn more [about] who I am, and I don’t fault him for trying to learn more about . . . my background,” Goshert says. “However, I do question his intent in contacting this private education organization that has no affiliation with me, the Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas, or the recall itself.” 

While the URL Bradley referenced no longer is viable, Goshert says the page was about a speech he made at an AZABSE event: “They asked me to speak at a teachers conference they had a few months back, and I talked about why education was important to me. I did mention the recall, but I spoke mostly about why education was important . . . I have no other affiliation with the group."

In addition to being alarmed by the “accusatory and intimidating tone” of Bradley’s message, Goshert says he also was surprised by two other things:

First, that the time stamp on it suggested that Bradley sent it while technically on the clock and working for the Department of Education — “Is it permissible and legal . . . to send e-mails like this?” Goshert asks. “That’s why we’re taking this to Arizona Attorney General Brnovich and his office to see what his opinion is of all this."

And second, given the ADE’s reticence to speak about the recall other than to note that it "is not on Superintendent Douglas' radar," he finds it strange that her chief of staff would specifically reference it in an e-mail.

"Once again, Diane Douglas’ words do not match her actions," Goshert says, adding that Bradley's e-mail “further solidifies our contention that she is not acting in her elected position with honesty, integrity, and transparency."

The Department of Education says Bradley had taken a sick day and was neither in the office nor working in an official capacity when he sent the comment. “Whether that’s true," Goshert says, "we’ll leave that to the AG’s office to figure out."

Update 9/9/15 9:10 a.m. — Read the full complaint to the AG's Office below:

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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser

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