Gov. Corbett says Ron Tomalis is not a 'ghost employee'

Gov. Tom Corbett today told reporters that Ron Tomalis, his special adviser for higher education, is not a ghost employee at the state Department of Education.

However, it turns out the department did not order a nameplate for his office door until Tuesday, two days after a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story raised questions about how much time the governor's office was requiring Mr. Tomalis to put in on the adviser job he started in July 2013 after stepping down as state education secretary.

On Thursday state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, called for an inquiry into whether Mr. Tomalis is performing the job he is being paid $139,542 annually, the same salary he collected as education secretary.

"He's not a ghost employee," Mr. Corbett said when taking questions from reporters after a mid-day event in York County today.

"He works for the secretary of education. He reports to her. She -- you've seen the quotes, that she sees him right down the hall. he's been doing the work. She's satisfied with it. I'm satisfied with it."

In a July 24 interview with the Post-Gazette, Carolyn Dumaresq, who is acting secretary of education, said Mr. Tomalis reported to both her and the governor.

On Thursday, Ms. Dumaresq granted an interview to a reporter from ABC affiliate WHTM in Harrisburg in which she pointed to Mr. Tomalis’ office and the nameplate on his door, just three doors down from hers, and said he put in full days there.

It turns out that nameplate was ordered on Tuesday, according to Troy Thompson, a state Department of General Services spokesman. Mr. Thompson said his department delivered the nameplate Wednesday.

The department of general services previously made a nameplate for Mr. Tomalis’ portrait as secretary, but did not have a previous request for a nameplate for his door, Mr. Thompson said.

Tim Eller, spokesman for the department of education, said the nameplate was ordered at Ms. Dumaresq's request when she "became aware of the nameplate not being in place."

A Sunday story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on documents obtained through the state Right-to-Know Law that showed Mr. Tomalis had a largely empty schedule, averaged little more than a phone call a day and produced just five emails in the year he served as the governor's adviser on higher education.

Mr. Tomalis has not been available for comment and education department Tim Eller said he is on vacation this week. The education department did not respond to a request for comment on the nameplate.

First Published August 1, 2014 12:00 AM

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