According to DCI, Stephanie Hubers knew something was wrong in Scott and Nicole Westerhuis’s budget fudgery at Mid-Central Educational Cooperative before the Department of Education noticed “incompetence” in Mid-Central bookkeeping in 2012. Apparently, reports Angela Kennecke, so did multiple people in the Department of Education:
Sources who have first-hand knowledge within the Department of Education tell KELOLAND News there were questionable expenses involving GEAR UP grant money as early as 2006 that were brought to the attention of department officials.
Several sources have confirmed that the department was warned of the misuse of grant money again in 2010 and 2011 by then-directors of Indian Education, LuAnn Werdel, followed by Roger Campbell.
KELOLAND News spoke with Roger Campbell Wednesday. He told Angela Kennecke he left the Department of Indian Education by his own accord, and could not help regarding issues with the GEAR UP grant during his time in office.
When KELOLAND News reached LuAnn Werdel, she said she did not want to comment.
In a statement Wednesday, the governor’s office did not dispute those warnings, but said they cannot comment on personnel actions [Angela Kennecke, “Warnings of Troubles With GEAR UP Grant To DOE Earlier Than First Reported,” KELO-TV, 2016.03.23].
One could read this report as pretty thin. The two individuals named, both former directors of the Office of Indian Education, decline to substantiate whatever “several” unnamed sources are telling Kennecke. We don’t know if “first-hand knowledge” is simply stuff folks heard or documents that landed in their laps that they can share with the press and the police. We don’t know if “several” means two or ten.
But I don’t think Angela Kennecke leaks tea leaves stamped “Sources in Pierre” unless she knows there’s strong tea coming. Since we have these tea leaves, let’s stick our pinkies out and see what they say:
- Kennecke says the sources are “within the Department of Education.” Leaks don’t happen much in Pierre. If sources in Pierre are talking, they may know the next shoes are about to drop, and they want to get out in front of that drop so they don’t get squashed along with the main targets.
- Leaks from the Department of Education may also indicate that someone higher up has authorized the leaks. Someone higher up may have told those sources that whatever fear or orders or loyalties have kept them silent for six years are about to be superseded.
- Speaking of that six-year silence, even if we don’t know their names, apparently several people had signals of “misuse”—not “incompetence,” but “misuse”—for a mighty long time and, apparently, did little or nothing to stop it. These sources may have committed no active fraud, they may not have received any hush money from Scott Westerhuis, but even if unbought, their long silences lay on their shoulders some portion of responsibility for the diversion of funds and whatever other crimes happened at Mid-Central.
“Several” sources cognizant of misuse of funds but silent for six years or more would represent pervasive corruption that no happy spin or the replacement of one department official will cure. These unknown DOE sources may be guilty staffers who know the crapstorm cometh and can only unburden their consciences on their way out the door.
Now, let’s see which one of them is first to reveal the real evidence.