Anyone you would talk to would say there is probably no one in state government who was more honest or more demanding of superior performance of his staff than former Arizona Department of Administration Director Brian McNeil.
According to sources, McNeil brought to the Governor’s office the same high standards he held while serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. According to employees, in his position with the State, McNeil expected State employees to live and work by those same high standards.
Unexpectedly he often found himself at odds with the Governor and her chief of staff, while he went about cleaning up Brewer’s administration.
This week he was fired by the Governor’s Chief of Staff. He says he wasn’t given a reason for the firing. Brewer’s staff has said that they were responding to an EEOC complaint filed by a female, who alleged that McNeil discriminated against based on her race.
In a statement released Thursday, McNeil said he has never discriminated against anyone and insisted that the events in an employee’s complaint have been mischaracterized.
So who is Brian McNeil and what has he done?
• His office last year investigated Jesse Hernandez, the ex-chairman and director of the state Board of Executive Clemency. Hernandez appointed by Brewer, had no experience in corrections or criminal justice resigned after nine cases of inappropriate behavior were identified. Perhaps the most egregious being the promotion of an unqualified female employee he was dating and giving her a $21,340 pay raise.
• Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martyn received a suspension after McNeil revealed Martyn had hired his three sons to work for the agency. Martyn was a political friend of Brewer’s with no Parks experience. He was working at her pleasure when the investigation occurred. Former ADOA Chief Human Resources Officer DiAnne Baune, who advised the parks department on personnel issues retired while Martyn remains at the agency.
McNeil, responding to allegations of racial discrimination and his subsequent firing, said he had not seen the EEOC complaint until Thursday, when it was reported by media outlets. Apparently, Brewer Chief of Staff Scott Smith and Deputy Chief of Staff Kathy Peckardt told him on Friday afternoon that he must resign or be fired, but never told him why. “I was not provided with any specific accusation or reason behind the necessity for such an action that I could review or to which I could respond,” McNeil wrote in his statement.
“I wish to be clear: I have never discriminated against anyone based on their race or gender, I believe had this matter been researched and investigated fairly, properly and objectively, it would have already been found to be something other than what is characterized,” stated McNeil.
“I learned all of this through a phone message today. I see the media received the documents in surprisingly quick fashion, but I had no chance to review them although I am the one accused,” he wrote.
McNeil said he hopes that “the complete truth will be allowed to prevail” through an investigation and review of the situation.
Governor Brewer was nowhere to be seen during this process. The treatment of McNeil is eerily similar to that of another veteran Joey Strickland, when he was relieved of duty by Brewer as the head of the Veteran’s Services department.