10/01/2013 06:55 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Cindy Hill, Wyoming Education Boss, Criticized for Responding To Subpoenas With 'Irrelevant' Documents

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, left, talks with reporters at the State Capitol in Cheyenne on Fri.,
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, left, talks with reporters at the State Capitol in Cheyenne on Fri., July 12, 2013. Hill spoke after a legislative committee authorized an investigation into her administration of the Wyoming Department of Education. (AP Photo/Bob Moen)

A Wyoming legislative committee investigating the state's elected education boss is criticizing her for sending 165,000 files -- including pictures and motivational speeches -- in response to subpoenas.

Wyoming House Speaker Tom Lubnau (R-Gillette), the investigative committee's chairman, sent a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill (R) Friday saying that the committee has grown "weary of your transparent attempts to frustrate" the panel, including her large-scale document drop in response to subpoenas from the committee. The letter is the latest episode in the ongoing saga with Hill, a tea party favorite, and lawmakers.

(A copy of Lubnau's letter can be found here.)

Hill was first accused of mismanagement in late 2012, following a legislative report that said she had not implemented new state education laws. She has denied the charges. That report set the stage for a bill signed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in January stripping Hill of her role heading the state Department of Education and handed control of the agency to a gubernatorial appointee. The superintendent's job -- an elected constitutional office -- is now largely ceremonial.

In the letter sent Friday, Lubnau accuses Hill of trying to frustrate the committee by sending a 118-gigabit computer file without providing explanations of the material. The documents included an MP3 of a motivational speaker, a photo of unidentified people sitting in a gymnasium, audio recordings of a former superintendent from the 1970s and multiple photographs of a painting currently hanging at Harvard University.

"The response you have provided is at minimum, feeble, or at its worst, a transparent attempt to hide relevant documents in a myriad potpourri of irrelevant jetsam," Lubnau wrote.

Lubnau also wrote that the committee has concerns over Hill's decision to include confidential material about Wyoming students in the documents.

Hill told The Huffington Post Tuesday that she released the documents because she was trying to cooperate with the subpoenas. She said that in her reading of the subpoenas she believed the committee was seeking all documents. "I was elected by the people and I will make sure the people have what they need," Hill said.

Hill sent a letter to Lubnau Tuesday reiterating that the subpoenas required her to send the documents. She noted that she and her small staff assembled the documents without consulting a lawyer. (Hill's letter can be found here.)

"I wanted to ensure that your committee had everything you might possibly need so that your work would be based on all the relevant facts," Hill wrote. "I did not want to speculate as to what you might find relevant and responsive and run the risk of failing to provide some important document."

Hill is challenging Mead in next year's Republican gubernatorial primary.

Lubnau wrote to Hill that the committee will allow her another attempt to provide the subpoenaed documents. He said that lawmakers will not be "intimidated, frustrated or distracted" by Hill.

State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne), an investigative committee member, said the panel will continue its work even if it means sorting through all of Hill's documents.

"With over 160,000 unorganized pages to read through, it will take the committee weeks to dig through the information, delaying the investigation and costing taxpayers money," Zwonitzer said.

"It would be beneficial to all Wyoming to get this behind us, but the investigative committee will continue to ensure a fair investigation into the full story, even with unexpected delays."



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