Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett fired Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Richard Allan on Thursday after he reportedly used offensive language in email messages, disparaging another government employee.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that it had requested a copy of a May 3 email exchange between Allan and his wife, Patricia, who is also a state government employee. During the exchange -- which dealt with a falcon banding event in Harrisburg in May -- Richard Allan reportedly used an offensive word to describe one of Patricia Allan's co-workers, an African-American woman. The paper reported that the woman eventually found out about the email and complained.
In a short statement, Corbett's office said the Republican governor asked for and received Allan's resignation. Ellen Ferretti, deputy secretary for the DCNR's parks and forestry division, was tapped to immediately serve as acting secretary.
"It had nothing to do with policy, and aside from that we're not able to comment any further because it's a personnel matter," Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett, told NGI's Shale Daily on Friday.
The dismissal is not believed to have anything to do with the latest oil and gas drilling controversy involving the DCNR. In April the agency held an online forum to discuss potential Marcellus Shale gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest. At the time, Allan said the agency was also planning a public hearing to discuss potential Loyalsock drilling, in response to criticism following private meetings between the DCNR and several stakeholders -- including county commissioners, planners, municipal officials and environmental groups -- on April 4 (see Shale Daily, April 23; April 1).
Allan is the sixth cabinet secretary in Corbett's administration to resign in the last nine months.
Michael Krancer said March 22 that he would step down as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 15, returning to practice law in Philadelphia. A former Environmental Hearing Board judge, Krancer has been mentioned as a potential state Supreme Court nominee (see Shale Daily, March 28; March 25), but Corbett nominated Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Correale Stevens to the high court on Thursday.
Health Secretary Eli Avila left his position last October, followed by Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander in February and Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner in March. Education Secretary Ron Tomalis resigned in May.