NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - WAVY.com investigated Del. Phil Hamilton and whether he createdan appearance of conflict of interest in getting funding forODU.
The Newport News 21-year legislative veteran secured $500,000for a new teacher training center which instructs teachers how tobetter instruct SOLs and No Child Left Behind requirements.
Problems arose when Hamilton denied any wrongdoing and emailssurfaced telling a different story.
"Clearly I want to apologize," Hamilton said.
He said this sitting in front of 5" of emails indicating he wasusing his position in the General Assembly to get start-up fundingfor the Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership(CTQEL) at ODU.
"Obviously, this stack of emails indicate there were emailsprior, during, and after the legislative system, and I apologizefor that," Hamilton told WAVY.com.
The conversations center on a consulting job he wanted before hesought funding for the center. Hamilton wrote to then ODU PresidentRoseann Runte: "When we talked about the center...I expressed aninterest in being associated with the initiative from aprofessional perspective. If possible, I would like to discuss thepossibility with you prior to my leaving for the GA on January 8,2007."
Later, during that session ODU got $500,000 in funding andHamilton got a $40,000 a year job.
"There was no promise of employment. Were there discussions of ajob? Yes. Was there a suggested salary in a dollar amount? Yes,there was," Hamilton said.
We asked, "Was there a conflict of interest?" Hamilton insiststhere was no "getting this for giving that," but knows it lookslike that.
"I know what it looks like. I'm not running from what it lookslike. I know it was no quid-pro-quo," he said.
Hamilton also left the impression he wanted a job. An email sentfrom the Program Director Dave Blackburn to his boss WilliamGraves, Dean of ODU's Darden College of Education, read, "Phil must feel he will get money...and is ensuring that he has ahome to go to...if you recall, he only wanted a small part-timedeal."
Hamilton says for the $40,000 he set up several seminars,promoted the Training Center around the state, helped with grantwriting, and in some cases found workers.
Current ODU President John Broderick was also mentioned in theRunte email on December 21, 2006.
"I enjoyed meeting with you and John yesterday. I sent him theinformation I have provided to the HAC staff for the budgetamendment," Hamilton wrote.
Broderick was a government liaison for ODU and has a longworking relationship with Hamilton. Hamilton says he's unsure howmuch Broderick knew about his employment, and Broderick refused anon camera interview to discuss what he knew.
In a statement on the ODU website, Broderick said the Universityand Hamilton agreed to mutually sever ties. Broderick appointed theDean of the Darden College of Education William Graves to overseethe oversight of the CTQEL.
Ironically, Dean Graves, who appears in scores of emailsconcerning Hamilton's involvement in the school and who is aware ofHamilton's employment in the CTQEL, at no point questions whetherit's appropriate for Hamilton to be associated with a program hesecured funding for. Moreover, no one at ODU questioned iteither.
When asked if Dean Graves oversight was like putting the fox inthe hen house, a University Spokesperson said, "No comment."
In the end, it is clear what Hamilton brought most to the tablewas Hamilton himself, and all the connections that come withthat.
"I let myself down. I'm not backing away from this. The ones Ihave most respect for are the ones who accept responsibility, stepup and say so. I'm stepping up, and if I made mistakes and theseemails say I have then I have to accept responsibility," a tearyeyed Hamilton said.
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