DCNR Secretary Allan forced to resign over an email - abc27 WHTM

DCNR Secretary Allan forced to resign over an email

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It is not uncommon for cabinet secretaries to depart the employ of a governor. Six have left Governor Corbett in the past eight months. But Thursday's departure of Camp Hill's Richard Allan, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is unusual in the way it was announced and the frenzied speculation it created.

Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley released a three sentence statement saying only that Corbett asked for and accepted Allan's resignation. Harley refused any further comment, calling it a personnel matter.

But late Thursday, abc27 sources said the resignation revolved around an email. Those sources said that Allan, a Camp Hill native who had served as secretary since March 2011, sent an email to his wife, who works for the Department of State, that was unflattering and unprofessional toward another state worker. The employee found out about it, complained about it, and Allan was asked to leave.

abc27's sources would not say, or did not know, exactly what was in the email but did say it was not sexual. The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the email contained a derogatory racial term for an African American.

After Corbett announced Allan's resignation, environmental groups immediately cheered and claimed victory. They had a sent a group letter to Corbett just this week complaining about DCNR and its secret meetings with gas drillers about drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County.

Jeff Schmidt of the Sierra Club Pa., one of the letter's authors, said it can't be a coincidence that days after their complaints Allan was forced out.

"The request for Secretary Allan to resign provides an opportunity for the Corbett administration to change course and become more transparent when it comes to managing Pennsylvania public lands," Schmidt said.

But Harley threw cold water on that theory saying that Allan's resignation had nothing to do with policy matters. 

Ellen Ferretti, deputy secretary for Parks and Forestry, will serve as acting secretary effective immediately, according to the news release.

It's hard to believe a cabinet secretary would be forced out over a nasty email, especially by Corbett who is typically loyal to a fault.

Whatever the reason, former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger,  a Democratic candidate for governor, pounced.

"Frankly, this is an administration that's crumbling faster and in a worse way than our terrible roads and bridges," Hanger said. "This administration right from the top is incompetent."

Hanger said Corbett's secretary roulette should be a red flag. Since October, the Secretaries of Health (Eli Avila), Welfare (Gary Alexander), Environmental Protection (Michael Krancer), Education (Ron Tomalis), Inspector General (Kenya Faulkner), and now DCNR (Allan), have all left the administration.

That's six in eight months.

"No matter what, the buck stops with the governor. He picked these folks."

abc27 went to Allan's Camp Hill home but no one answered the door and attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

With acting secretaries at DCNR and DEP, Hanger wonders who's permanently watching out for the environment.

"Things can go radically wrong quickly on the DEP and DCNR watch," Hanger said.

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