Ethics Commission to search for new leader; AL senator expresses interest
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The next director of the Alabama Ethics Commissioner must have a "strong moral compass" says outgoing director Jim Sumner.
Sumner announced earlier this month that he would retire in October after 17 years on the job.
"They have to be able to take that hat off," Sumner said of the notion of politics when it comes to cases that involve the use of public funds and conflicts of interest.
Sumner added that it would be difficult for the commission to find someone who didn't have involvement in politics on one side of the aisle or the other.
The Alabama Ethics Commission is very different than even five years ago. In 2010 the Alabama Legislature approved subpoena power for the nonpartisan agency, a power the commission never had in the past.
Sumner, who worked for the University of Alabama as its director of government affairs before taking his current job, said not abusing that power for political purposes is paramount to the role of director.
"I think the person in this position has to have the ability to discern what is important for the case, what do we need, and how are we going to go about getting it," Sumner said.
Sumner said he didn't know who would show interest in the position or even where the Ethics Commission would search to fill the void in the Fall. He did say that it's not out of the question for the commission to hire an interim director while it searches for a permanent replacement.
WSFA 12 News confirmed that one outgoing former lawmaker, Sen. Bryan Taylor, has expressed interest in the job and that calls to members of the Ethics Commission have even been made on his behalf.
When reached for comment Wednesday, Taylor wouldn't confirm nor deny his interest in the position but did say in a statement that he enjoys spending more time with his family as he builds his law practice in Prattville.
As for who Taylor thinks should fill the director role at the Ethics Commission he said, "Whoever serves as the next Ethics Commission director must be someone committed to doing the right thing regardless of the politics. So it's important for the credibility of whomever is appointed that the selection process be open and transparent and that the Commission carefully vet all interested candidates."
The Alabama Senate would have to confirm the Ethics Commission's nomination to become the next director of the agency.
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