11 a.m.: Hill leadership team member testifies about family ties in education department
CHEYENNE – A member of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill’s leadership team said this morning she did not know she violated state law when she approved her daughter’s sole source contract with the Wyoming Department of Education.
The testimony came during the second of three days of hearings here, where a special state House committee is investigating whether Hill committed any impeachable offenses while she led the state Department of Education from 2011 to early 2013.
Sheryl Lain said she “twisted [her] daughter’s arm” to take a contract with the agency after not finding any other qualified teachers to work with an intervention program in 2011. Lain’s daughter, Shan Anderson, signed a $17,000 sole source contract with the department to provide professional development across the state that year. Lain requested the department exempt her daughter's position from competitive, according to documents provided prior to testimony.
Lain said Hill had no knowledge of the contract. She said signing her daughter’s contract without consulting Hill or the state attorney general was a mistake. Someone else should have signed it, she said.
“I wish somebody [would have] known ahead of time,” Lain said. “It was a procedural problem.”
The Wyoming Constitution prohibits public employees from advocating or causing the employment of a family member in another state position.
Former Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship came under fire in 2005 when it was reported his mother worked at the Department of Education for a month, and that two wives of Republican legislators had been hired there. Blankenship resigned as superintendent in 2005.
Hill is expected to testify tomorrow. She has denied any wrongdoing and is challenging the constitutionality of the law that removed much of her power in 2013 and created a governor-appointed director of the Department of Education.
Check back for updates from today's hearings.