Ron Sparks torches Gov. Ivey for closing Office of Rural Develop - Montgomery Alabama news.

Ron Sparks torches Gov. Ivey for closing Office of Rural Development

Ron Sparks says Gov. Kay Ivey should kiss Robert Bentley's feet. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Ron Sparks says Gov. Kay Ivey should kiss Robert Bentley's feet. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Ron Sparks is expressing frustration after Gov. Kay Ivey abolished the Office of Rural Development Wednesday, just two days after she assumed her new office. Sparks had headed the office since its creation by then-Gov. Robert Bentley in 2011.

Sparks said he found out through the media that Ivey had abolished his office. The move did not sit well. He discovered he was out of a job shortly after Ivey fired Bentley cabinet member Jon Mason who was the head of ServeAlabama and the husband of Bentley's former top advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, with whom the governor was allegedly having an affair. 

"I wasn't a part of the scandal," Sparks said. "My name hadn't been involved in any of that." 

Sparks ran against Bentley in the 2010 gubernatorial race and following his loss, Bentley hired him to run the new office. Sparks felt the situation could have been handled better. 

"In my opinion, she [Ivey] stooped to the lowest level of politics," Sparks said. "If I was her I would kiss Governor Bentley's feet because that's the only way she would ever become governor of the state of Alabama."

Sparks isn't holding back after his office got the ax. He says Ivey put politics over saving the lives of babies, referencing his agency's newly-launched Baby Box initiative.

"Give a guy who's been doing this for the last six years an opportunity to sit down with someone on your staff and have a smooth transition, that's what professionals do," Sparks demanded. "It saddens me that she didn't have the courage to look me in the eye and say 'Ron, you're not going to fit into my administration, but there's some programs that you have that I have an interest in. Would you please transition it in a smooth way?' I would have been honored to do that," he went on.

Officials with the Baby Box program say the office's closure will not affect the program and funding is already secured.

"It was not a personal decision, it was a business decision," Ivey explained of her decision. 

She said the Office of Rural Development, which falls under the control of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA, was set up for political reasons and the rural priorities the agency served can dissolve into several state and federal agencies.

"There's no use to create a new department that costs money, to staff it and operate it, when you've got agencies that that mission can be folded into," the governor explained.

Sparks wasn't planning on being a part of Ivey's administration, but the former agricultural commissioner said the lack of common courtesy speaks to Ivey's character.

"She had no respect for the Black Belt. She had no respect for telemedicine and no respect for the babies' lives in this state," Sparks quipped. 

While Sparks said he hasn't decided if he'll run again for governor, if he does it will be as a Democrat. He said he understands the issues and promises he'll be a part of the process.

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