An education advisor to State Representative Laura Knaperek (R-District 17) was demoted for an apparent conflict of interest. According to yesterday's Arizona Republic:
Kim Sheane took a job as a higher-education adviser for the Republican majority staff at the House on Dec. 13, three days after she resigned as executive director of the Arizona Community College Association.Sheane was paid $15,000 from the association to edit a "white paper" spelling out the organization's long-term goals. The contract also called on Sheane to oversee "grass-roots" public relations work for the association. That included building support to allow community colleges to give four-year baccalaureate degrees, a key issue Sheane was to be involved in as a House adviser to Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Laura Knaperek, R-Tempe.
Records showed that Sheane had another potential conflict of interest because she continued to draw regular paychecks from the Arizona Community College Association for back vacation time until March.
Those payments amounted to more than $34,000, records show. Between the contract and the back pay, the association paid Sheane $49,000 after she took the House job. That was in addition to her $115,000 legislative salary.
In February, Knaperek introduced House Bill 2079, which would have allowed community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in fire science, health professions, law enforcement and teaching.
It also would have converted Eastern Arizona College, a financially struggling community college in Thatcher, into a four-year liberal-arts college.
Sheane worked behind the scenes with Knaperek and other Republicans to make sure that the bill passed at the same time as she was under contract with the ACCA doing related work. The legislation ultimately died in the Senate.
Knaperek since has embarked on an aggressive series of Town Hall campaigns to build support. Sheane was assisting in that effort until she was disciplined last week.