In a letter sent today to the Alabama Ethics Commission, Tuscaloosa coal miner John Box asks officials to investigate what he describes as “misuse of state office” by an employee of Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn.
Mr. Box specifically asks the Ethics Commission to review two examples of alleged misconduct by Dunn’s chief of staff David Rountree, under the auspices of his boss.
Rountree recently conducted a television interview on behalf of Commissioner Dunn, who is currently running for re-election.
“Not only is Mr. Rountree there during work hours under the title Chief of Staff in Commissioner Terry Dunn’s office, he is also discussing which type of political donations the Terry Dunn Campaign will accept,” Box wrote in his Ethics Commission letter. “He can either be a Chief of Staff or a campaign spokesman, but he can’t be both.”
Box’s second complaint centered around Rountree’s use of a taxpayer-funded cell phone to conduct business for a Political Action Committee he launched last year.
“On February 21, 2013, the Political Action Committee Alabamians for Fair Utility Rates was filed by David Rountree with the Alabama Secretary of State,” Box explained. “The phone number listed on this form is… David Rountree’s State of Alabama cell phone, a phone that thousands of coal miners like me pay for.”
“When a similar situation happened not too long with another PSC employee, Janice Hamilton, Commissioner Dunn called for her to be fired outright,” Box continued. “My hope is that the Alabama Ethics Commission will take these issues as seriously as my coworkers and I do.”
Box also took the opportunity to slam Dunn and Rountree for “trying to kill coal jobs.”
“While they are entitled to fight against the coal industry, they should not be using taxpayer assets to wage their political battles,” he wrote. “It’s bad enough they are trying to kill coal jobs like mine, but taxpayers, including me, should not being paying for it.”
Mr. Box is a third-generation coal miner who has been very vocal opponent of President Obama’s “War on Coal” and about his belief that Commissioner Dunn and his staff are playing a role in it.
A phone call to Mr. Rountree’s cell phone was not immediately returned.
Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims