Oversees Information Technology for Students throughout Arizona
PHOENIX, ARIZONA. AUGUST 12, 2010. A convicted con artist is in charge of information technology at the Arizona Department of Education, Attorney General candidate Andrew Thomas announced today.
Tom Horne hired Donald Houde despite his criminal past. Houde is a convicted con man who was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing $1.7 million from his employer, Mile Hi Cablevision in Denver.
An Attorney General is supposed to prosecute criminals, not hire them; but Tom Horne apparently didn’t get the memo.
In 2005 Horne appointed Donald Houde Chief Information Officer for the State Department of Education. In 2007 Horne promoted him, adding Deputy Associate Superintendent to his title. He earns more than $140,000 a year.
In hiring and promoting Houde, Horne has put a confessed thief in charge of sensitive information involving teachers and students across the state.
As CIO, Houde is responsible for the security of student records, background information on teachers including Social Security numbers, and department financial records.
Horne knows of Houde’s criminal record, yet he insists on keeping him on the payroll despite his shocking past.
Houde has also apparently padded his resume, citing a college degree and a technology patent that don’t exist. To make matters worse, Houde cited these credentials in a 2007 federal grant application for the state of Arizona. This may cost Arizona taxpayers because grants with false information can be rescinded.
Houde’s six-figure salary apparently isn’t enough for him nor does it seem to take up all of his time. Houde also owns a consulting company in Scottsdale which published at least one report for the Arizona Department of Education.
Houde isn’t the only high level employee with a questionable past at the Department of Education. Horne hired Carmen Chenal even though her license to practice law was suspended at the time.
Attending the press conference with Thomas were Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and leaders of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which have endorsed Thomas for Attorney General.
Thomas stated, “Birds of a feather flock together. Not only is Tom Horne a confessed con artist, he has hired a convicted felon who embezzled $1.7 million to oversee sensitive information on students and teachers in Arizona.”
A summary of all Houde background information can be found here.
Horne was banned for life by the Securities and Exchange Commission from selling securities after he defrauded his clients. Horne also illegally and repeatedly failed to disclose his bankruptcy when he filled out paperwork to incorporate his law firm with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
During Thomas’ time in office, crime rates plummeted. The 19 percent drop is more than twice the national rate of decline, in despite of an 11 percent increase in the county’s population during that time. The illegal immigrant population has dropped by anywhere from 18 percent (Dept. of Homeland Security estimate) to 30 percent (Center for Immigration Studies estimate). Like the fall in crime rates, this dramatic decline in illegal immigration is far greater than the average in the rest of the nation.
Thomas has a track record of successfully defending illegal immigration crackdowns in our courts, including his successful efforts to prosecute illegal immigrants for conspiring to violate the state’s human-smuggling law and to defend Prop 200’s voter ID requirements and the employer-sanctions law, which he defended along with the Attorney General’s Office.
If elected Attorney General Thomas has pledged to expand that office’s prosecutions of illegal immigrants under the state’s human smuggling laws. The office is not currently pursuing such prosecutions.
Thomas is married with four children. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Prior to serving as Maricopa County Attorney, Thomas served as an assistant attorney general for Arizona, deputy counsel and criminal justice policy advisor to the Governor, special assistant to the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, and a deputy county attorney.
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