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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2007
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Halting
double-dipping

Riley expects ban to be approved,
wants to see it expanded

By Jay Reeves
Associated Press Writer
BIRMINGHAM — Gov. Bob Riley said Tuesday he expects the state school board to approve a ban on legislators holding jobs in Alabama’s two-year colleges, and he would like to see the policy expanded to cover all cases of so-called double-dipping.

Under questioning, Riley said the expanded ban would cover elected officials with ties to four-year schools, which would include state Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn, the Alabama GOP chairman.

Speaking at a news conference, the Republican governor said the measure before the State Board of Education on Thursday would prevent the “inherent problems” linked to legislators working for two-year schools at the same time they have the power to direct state funding toward the schools.

Democrats and Alabama Education Association leader Paul Hubbert have been critical of the proposal to ban legislators from working at two-year schools. They claim it would discriminate against educators by preventing them from serving in state government and force legislators to choose between education jobs and elected positions.

Riley denied any bias would be created.

“I do not know of a single teacher it is going to affect. Does it discriminate against politicians? Probably so,” he said

Responding to a question about Hubbard from Democratic Party spokesman Jesse McDaniel, who attended the news conference, Riley said he would like the policy expanded beyond two-year schools to include legislators with links to four-year schools. Hubbard is president of Auburn ISP Network Inc., which holds the broadcasting rights to Auburn University athletics.

A deal between a school and a legislator is “not any more appropriate for Mike than it is anyone else,” said Riley, who previously tried and failed to get lawmakers to ban so-called double-dipping.

“What we wanted to do is limit it across the board ... (so) you can’t serve in the Legislature and have all these contracts and you can’t serve in the Legislature and be a double-dipper,” said Riley, who did not directly say that Hubbard’s arrangement was wrong.

Hubbard different?

Hubbard said his situation is different than that of a legislator working for a two-year school because he only works for a company that has a contract with the state-funded university.

“It’s different because this entity gets no money from Auburn. We generate private sector money and pay it to Auburn, about $5.5 million annually,” said Hubbard.

Hubbard previously held broadcasting rights for Auburn sports but sold them to ISP Sports, a national company that hired him and holds the broadcasting rights for more than 40 universities. Hubbard still owns Auburn Network Inc., but he said it has no relationship to the university or ISP Sports.

Under the proposal before the state board, two-year schools would be banned from hiring state elected officials or signing them to consulting contracts. They also would be barred from signing contracts with a company in which officials have a stake or 5 percent of more.

The policy, proposed by new two-year Chancellor Bradley Byrne, would let officials who work for two-year schools complete their current term as a school employee by using unpaid leave to perform legislative duties.

Byrne would have to approve the leave, and he has said he would be unlikely to do so.

After their current term is complete, an official must quit his or her two-year college job if re-elected.

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

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