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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Troy King's lapses belie his rhetoric

If you're going to talk the talk you'd better walk the walk, but state Attorney General Troy King took a serious stumble.

Mr. King, according to a report Sunday in The Birmingham News, requested that the chancellor of the state's two-year school system hire the mother of a friend and deputy attorney general. He did so during the pendency of an investigation into the two-year system that has since led to the ouster of former Chancellor Roy Johnson.

Mr. King's effort worked. The chancellor hired Ann Hinderer as a cashier at Southern Union State Community College on Jan. 3. Ms. Hinderer is the mother of Marc Bass, one of Mr. King's top aides.

Also during the investigation, he asked the chancellor to hire former state mental health chief Virginia Rogers.

"Looking back now," Mr. King said, "it probably was not the best decision."

That may be the understatement of Mr. King's short political career.

Mr. King campaigned for the Nov. 7 election with the rhetoric of an uncompromising guardian of ethical behavior in government. Front and center of every campaign speech was his zeal in fighting public corruption.

Asking for favors, and receiving them, from a target of an investigation would be disturbing in any context. Add to that the flavor of hypocrisy, and you have a lapse that undermines the public trust.

Mr. King went out of his way to attract high expectations for ethical behavior. He would be unwise to expect the public to be forgiving if lapses such as these continue.

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