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Chapman, Worley continue sparring

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Democrat Nancy Worley delivered state checks and signed government documents when she was no longer in office and Republican Beth Chapman had been sworn in to replace her as secretary of state.

"It was a last-minute power play," Chapman said Wednesday.

Worley, a former Decatur teacher, replied that she was simply wrapping up routine business and Chapman knew that.

"She's real paranoid about stuff like that," Worley said.

Worley also said that Chapman changed the locks to the office on Friday, Jan. 12, when Worley was still officially secretary of state and Chapman had been given the run of the office to set up for a reception on inauguration day, Jan. 15.

"That's not true," Chapman said.

She said Worley had sent her word that she would not be in the office on her last official workday of Jan. 12 and that Chapman could have full use of the office. Chapman said she decided to change the locks then, but Worley did come back that afternoon after attending a court hearing in Montgomery.

Chapman said Worley has visited the secretary of state's office twice since leaving office, including picking up a check for money due the Montgomery County Commission and signing commissions for elected officials.

Chapman memo

Worley's actions prompted Chapman to send a memo to the secretary of state's staff on Jan. 19 that said Worley should be treated with respect when she visits the office, but "there should be no contact with her with regard to any of the business dealings of this office at all. It is not appropriate."

Chapman, the former state auditor, defeated Worley in the general election Nov. 7. Chapman took the oath of office on Jan. 15, a state holiday when all the state's constitutional officers were inaugurated.

The next day, Worley went by the secretary of state's office to drop off her office keys and gas card. While there, she left a handwritten note to Chapman saying an employee "did not want to give me" a check to reimburse the Montgomery County Commission for buying election equipment.

Worley's note said the employee could not reach Chapman, so "I took the check off her desk," with plans to deliver it to the county commission.

While there, Worley also asked to sign election commissions that go to the state and county elected officials, who often hang them on their office walls. "To keep her from berating an employee, we let her sign them," Chapman said. But they are now being redone with Chapman's signature before being sent to new officeholders, she said.

Talk about Worley's visits to the secretary of state's office quickly spread among Capitol employees, prompting reporters to contact Chapman.

Worley said it's customary for the secretary of state who's in office when elected officials take office to sign the documents. She said the Legislature, Public Service Commission and many other officials took office while she was still secretary of state and that's why she signed the election certificates when they were available on the day after the inauguration.

Chapman pointed out that her election certificate as state auditor four years ago was signed by Worley, not her predecessor, Jim Bennett.

Worley said the Montgomery County Commission had three checks due it for reimbursement for $1.7 million in election equipment purchases. The County Commission chairman wanted all three checks at once, and the last one wasn't cut until Saturday, Jan. 13.

Because of the state holiday on Monday, Jan. 15, Worley said she picked up the third check on Jan. 16 and took all three to the county commission.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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