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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reception may lead to trouble for SECC

Thursday, November 21, 2002

CHARLESTON - A reception for Sen. Jean Carnahan's daughter may have landed Southeast Correctional Center officials in hot water.

An undisclosed source has alleged SECC officials violated state statutes and Missouri Department of Corrections policy in attending the event.

"Our department has initiated an internal investigation into the incident to see if there was any breach of departmental policy and procedure by our staff with regard to that reception," confirmed John Fougere, spokesperson for DOC.

Fougere said he could not offer further comment "because our investigation is pending."

The Standard Democrat received documents which included an internal SECC memo apparently sent and signed by the superintendent, Donna Y. McCondichie, to eight of the prison's employees in supervisory positions.

The memo reads: "You have been requested to attend a reception provided by Mrs. Betty Hearnes at the Clara Drinkwater Newnam Library for Ms. Debbie Carnahan (daughter of Senator Jean Carnahan) on Wednesday, October 30, 2002, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Your presence is requested, please be prepared to address any questions she may have regarding this institution and your respective areas. Please dress appropriately and represent the institution well, as I know you will."

An unsigned typed note accompanying the documents alleges that because the reception was in fact a political rally for the Democrat party, it was a violation of both departmental policy and state statutes for SECC officials to use a state vehicle to attend the event and to be there in uniform, on duty.

McCondichie declined to offer any comment, referring all questions to the DOC's main office in Jefferson City.

As part of the Mississippi County Industrial Development Authority board, Hearnes was instrumental in bringing the prison to Charleston. Hearnes is also a former state representative and wife of former Gov. Warren E. Hearnes.