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Former Alabama State University Trustee Wiggins Threatens to Sue Governor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. ― Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins is threatening to sue Gov. Robert Bentley for removing him as a trustee of Alabama State University.

Wiggins sent an emailed letter to the governor, saying the removal violates his due process rights and is in violation of the standards of the university’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“Your unilateral removal deprives me of the rights and liberties bestowed upon me once I was appointed by Gov. Bob Riley and confirmed by the Alabama State Senate,” the judge wrote.

A spokeswoman for the governor said Wednesday he was reviewing the letter and had no immediate comment.

Bentley removed Wiggins as a trustee on Friday after Wiggins refused the governor’s request to resign. Bentley said Wiggins had failed in his duties as a trustee. Among the problems cited by Bentley was Wiggins’ wife making about $30,000 for operating a summer camp hosted by Alabama State.

Bentley has appointed Ralph Ruggs, director of the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority, to replace Wiggins. Wiggins also served as vice chairman of the board of trustees. Bentley, who is president of the Alabama State board by virtue of his office, has called a trustee meeting Aug. 8 to elect a new vice chairman.

In a related development, The Montgomery Advertiser reported Alabama State has spent $318,098 in legal fees suing a forensic auditing firm hired by the governor. Bentley hired Forensic Strategic Solutions of Birmingham to review Alabama State’s finances. The majority of the legal fees went to attorney U.W. Clemon’s firm, which took in $224,617.

The university sued the auditing firm in California, but a judge dismissed the suit, saying it belonged in Alabama’s courts.

Jeff Windham, the in-house attorney for Forensic Strategic Solutions, said he and an outside attorney hired by the company to work on the lawsuit had roughly 300 billable houses working on the case. Those hours and other related expenses cost the company nearly $50,000, he told the newspaper.

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