Bentley adviser responds to Wiggins, reveals reasons for removal – Montgomery Advertiser

Posted: Friday, August 01, 2014

Former Alabama State University trustee Marvin Wiggins has no grounds on which to challenge his removal from the university’s board, according to a letter Gov. Robert Bentley’s legal adviser sent Wiggins on Wednesday.

The letter from David Byrne, the governor’s chief legal adviser, also provided more specifics on the reasons behind Wiggins’ removal, noting that the former trustee’s family members received a total of $250,301.05 over a span of three years. The majority of that money was earned by Wiggins’ sister-in-law, Michelle Crawford, who took in $80,000 per year as a professor at ASU during that time.

Byrne’s letter comes in response to a letter Wiggins sent to Bentley on Tuesday demanding that the governor withdraw his order to remove Wiggins from the board over conflict-of-interest allegations.

“For these reasons and others, the governor respectfully declines to rescind his letter of removal dated July 25, 2014,” Byrne’s letter concludes.

Wiggins said Tuesday that he would take his case to court should Bentley refuse his request. Wiggins was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Byrne’s letter also addresses Wiggins’ claims that his appointment to the board entitles him to a due process hearing in the event the governor attempts to remove him.

Byrne states that because Wiggins receives no salary or state benefits from his position on the board, he is not entitled to a “pre-deprivation hearing.”

“The statute, by its plain language, does not give you the right to a public hearing,” Byrne writes.

Byrne also writes that Wiggins is misguided when he claims ASU’s bylaws require a due process hearing before removal. Byrne said that bylaw applies only to board removal, not removal by the governor.

Additionally, Byrne said state statute trumps ASU bylaw.

“… the Court held that ‘to the extent that the (ASU) bylaws conflicts with a … statute, it is well known that the … statute controls,'” Byrne noted.

Byrne’s letter also alleges again that Wiggins had a duty as a trustee, prior to her hiring, to alert university officials that Crawford, an attorney, had been disbarred in North Carolina.

In his letter to Bentley on Tuesday, Wiggins stated that a number of “undisputed documents” had been provided to Bentley showing that Wiggins did not violate the state’s conflict-of-interest statute. Additionally, Wiggins said failing to alert ASU officials of Crawford’s disbarment did not violate any bylaw or statute and therefore didn’t provide Bentley with cause to remove him.

Wiggins said Bentley’s actions constitute a violation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ standards.

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