SUMMARY: In December 2008, Whatley sent a letter to the Alabama Democratic Party expressing his interest in being appointed as Alabama’s state director of the USDA Rural Development agency. The U.S. secretary of agriculture, a member of the president’s cabinet, is responsible for the appointment of the position.
Little claims an inaccuracy in Whatley’s résumé led to Whatley not getting the position. Little cites a March 2009 article in the Mobile Press-Register to back up his claim. Whatley said the claim is “totally false,” and said he does not know why he didn’t get the appointment.
ANALYSIS: Little’s campaign claims Whatley did not get the appointment as state director of USDA Rural Development in Alabama after an article in the Mobile Press-Register reported Whatley admitted he did not handle cases in the areas of energy and telecommunications regulation in his private practice as an attorney while working as chief of staff to Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jan Cook from 1999 to 2005. As chief of staff, Whatley also “specialized in energy and telecommunications regulation,” according to his résumé.
Ronald Davis was later appointed to the role of state director.
On his résumé, Whatley wrote that he had a private practice during the same time he was chief of staff for Cook. As a March 29, 2009, Press-Register article states, Whatley’s résumé shows his private practice had an emphasis on “energy and telecommunications regulation.”
The news article quotes Hugh Evans, Alabama Ethics Committee general counsel, as saying that if Whatley did private work on energy or telecommunications cases while serving at the Alabama Public Service commission doing the same type of work, that could be a possible problem.
Both in the Mobile Press-Register article and in a phone interview with the Opelika-Auburn News on Wednesday, Whatley said he did not do any private legal work in those areas while serving as chief of staff.
“At no time did I ever practice law in the public sector and the private sector at the same time,” Whatley told the Opelika-Auburn News.
The 2009 Press-Register headline reads, “Whatley says résumé inaccurate.” Whatley now disputes the headline. He claims his résumé is accurate and said, “I wish I had been more clear with the Mobile Press-Register reporter.”
Whatley said the description of his private law practice work was simply a listing of the types of law he was knowledgeable in, not the cases he necessarily worked on during that time frame.
He told the Opelika-Auburn News that Little’s claim is “totally not true. That’s totally false, and I don’t know why Ted Little’s doing that. He knows it’s not true, and he knows it’s highly misleading.”
In a phone interview with the Opelika-Auburn News on Wednesday, Little defended his ad’s claim, saying, “There’s no question that Tom made the application (for the position). There’s no question that he was on the short list, and there was no question that he did not get the appointment.”
When asked how he could make the link that Whatley did not get the job at the White House because he falsified his résumé, Little said, “I have heard that that’s why he did not get the job, and I’m not at liberty to say who I got that information from. But I heard from good authority that that was the reason his name was removed from the short list.”
Little’s campaign manager, Winston Leavell, told the Opelika-Auburn News that he could arrange for a reporter to talk to an anonymous source who would be able to confirm that Whatley’s résumé was the reason he was not appointed to the state director position. However, it is the Opelika-Auburn News’ policy not to use anonymous sources.
Whatley said he does not know why he didn’t get the job in 2009, but said it could be because “I didn’t fit in with their agenda and what they wanted to do.”