From an AP story found at Indystar.com
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — The day before he abruptly resigned from his job, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett wrote an impassioned email to two former governors he called “part of my family.”
Bennett reached out to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to give a spirited defense of his actions as Indiana education chief while also explaining his reasons for stepping down last week.
Bennett said his life had been a “living hell” after The Associated Press reported that his staff in Indiana changed that state’s school-grading formula to benefit Christel House Academy, a charter school founded by influential Republican donor Christel DeHaan.
“The simple fact is that I cannot allow my family to go through this and what will be more attacks to come,” Bennett wrote in a July 31 email from his personal account
cannot allow all our work in Indiana to be compromised. I cannot allow you Governor Daniels, and your legacy to be cheapened,” he wrote. “I cannot allow our staff to be victimized and hurt. I cannot allow this to cast a dark shadow over Governor (Rick) Scott and his need to have an education leader who has the credibility to lead. Finally, I cannot allow your work which I consider to be the cornerstone of education reform to be cheapened by this character assassination that will spill over into your work.”
The email was released Friday by the Department of Education in response to a public records request.
In the email — which also was sent to the head of a foundation run by Bush — he acknowledges that he had told them before he had notified the chairman of the State Board of Education.
The email does state he had talked to the Scott administration before notifying Daniels and Bush.
Bennett in his email said he came to Florida to help Scott have a “lasting legacy” because he believed the education model installed under Bush is “right for American education.”
“While I never was so Pollyanna to believe that I would love Governor Scott the way I do you guys, I came here to help him nonetheless,” he wrote
What’s not written here is the underlining fact that Associated Press reporters have requested Bennett’s Florida emails and now have them. Bennett’s Bush-Daniels email may be just the first story.
The tone of Bennett’s email to the two powerful former governors offers a glimpse at the relationship he had with them. Were they so close that they served as Bennett’s enablers? Were they the backbone for Bennett’s heavy-handed Indiana tenure where he so easily dismissed opponents with “that train has left the station.” Coupled with an Indiana BOE stacked with Daniels appointees, Bennett assumed absolute power. And it’s clear that in Indiana, absolute power corrupted absolutely.