BOISE – Despite embattled former Idaho Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna’s announced resignation, she remains on the department’s payroll at the same salary and a new title.
State records show Luna is now employed full-time as a “program specialist” for the department at a salary of $95,202 a year, the same salary she earned as director.
Last week, Keith Reynolds, who had been the finance director for the department, was named interim director. State records show he is currently employed as director at a salary of $87,048.
“She is still here working through the transition of the director,” said department spokeswoman Jennifer Pike. “So she is still an employee of the department.” Pike said Luna is staying on to assist with the transition to the interim director or a new director.
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, co-chairman of the Legislature’s joint budget committee, said, “Boy, that’s news to me. That’s not the way they had conveyed that things would be handled. … Clearly the implication was that she was leaving.”
Gov. Butch Otter announced on March 17 that Luna would resign at the end of this year’s legislative session; she’s headed the Department of Administration since 2011 and was at the center of the brouhaha over the Idaho Education Network, which collapsed after courts ruled that the original $60 million contract for the statewide school broadband service was awarded illegally.
The contract was issued by Luna’s predecessor, Otter’s close friend Mike Gwartney, who served in the position for a salary of $1 a year. But while Luna was in charge, she pushed forward with the contract despite legal questions, even extending it through 2019 without informing the Legislature. Federal authorities cut off millions in matching funds as a result. Lawsuits over the mess are continuing.
This year, lawmakers removed the entire program from the Department of Administration and instead handed supervision of school broadband service to the state Department of Education. It oversaw individual contracts that quickly were signed by school districts with vendors of their choice, with big savings as a result.
Cameron called the decision to keep Luna on after her resignation “certainly unusual, and a bit surprising.” He said, “I’ll certainly wait to hear their explanation. But it certainly is an unusual step, particularly given the circumstances.”
Asked how long Luna will be staying on for the transition, Pike said, “I don’t know if there’s a definite date. She and the governor’s office have been discussing that.”
Jon Hanian, Otter’s spokesman, said Luna’s last day with the agency will be May 8.
Reynolds is a certified public accountant and University of Idaho graduate who joined the department in 2012 after working three years as budget analyst for Otter. He previously operated his own financial services business.
Luna was Gwartney’s chief of staff before taking over the department. She previously worked for the Idaho state controller’s office for four years. She is the sister of former state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna.
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