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Why Colorado’s Education Commissioner Is Under Investigation

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jones-dwightIf you’ve been following the state’s budget story at all, you know Governor Bill Ritter and legislators must eliminate roughly $320 million. So far, it hasn’t been easy, as demonstrated by furloughs and cuts to myriad programs.

That’s why it’s tough to understand what was going through the mind of Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight Jones, who spent tens of thousands of dollars on new furniture, bought top-quality plasma televisions, and took people out to expensive dinners, according to investigations at CBS4 and 7News.

Here’s an example: Jones and his wife took Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg and his wife to dinner at Strings restaurant in Denver. The cost: $228.36, including cocktails. Jones reimbursed half to the state to cover the cost of bringing wives but charged the rest to taxpayers.

Jones, for his part, responding to an array of particular questions, tells the news organizations that his spending is legitimate because it involved official business and, in the case of some furniture, safety—although a memo reveals the furniture was being replaced because it was “mismatched” and “not conducive to staff collaboration.” In the wake of the investigations, Jones will review all of his personal expense claims, state officials tell The Denver Post.

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