September 23, 2004
Arizona’s top official for providing state help to veterans now will be advising Gov. Janet Napolitano on other military matters as well.
Patrick Chorpenning, director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, will take on additional duties as Napolitano’s policy adviser for military affairs. Chorpenning will replace Dion Flynn, who is on maternity leave and plans to leave office by the end of the year.
The appointment comes as questions have been raised about the employment of two of Chorpenning’s family members at Veterans Services. An e-mail circulated widely at the state Capitol questions the employment of his wife, Cornelia, who was hired earlier this year as an interior decorator for a remodeling project at the State Veteran’s Home in Phoenix. His son, Pat, enrolled in 2001 for a training program for nursing home administrators funded by Veterans Services.
Chorpenning said he was not involved in hiring either of them.
"That was never hidden and there was public knowledge throughout everything," Patrick Chorpenning said.
In 2001, Patrick Chorpenning said he checked with the state Department of Administration, which confirmed the son’s employment didn’t violate personnel rules because he didn’t report to his father. Still, his son left the training program to avoid "creating some embarrassment" after concerns were raised, Patrick Chorpenning said.
Cornelia Chorpenning was hired by John Tucker, the veterans home administrator, Patrick Chorpenning said.
Jeanine L’Ecuyer, Napolitano’s press secretary, said Cornelia Chorpenning’s job is far enough removed from her husband’s to avoid violating personnel rules.
L’Ecuyer said the governor’s office knew about the concerns when Napolitano picked him as military adviser.
Napolitano created the military affairs position in 2003 to place more emphasis on protecting Arizona’s military bases.
That adviser also has provided guidance on other issues such as the Arizona National Guard as individual units have been called up to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and other federal assignments.
Patrick Chorpenning is a retired Marine who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War. He was appointed director of Veterans Services under former Gov. Jane Hull in 1999, and he has been honored by veterans groups for his efforts on their behalf.
Patrick Chorpenning said the new assignment fits well with managing a state agency with a budget of $14.6 million and nearly 300 employees.
"It really refreshing that the governor sees the connection between our active-duty military and our veterans," Patrick Chorpenning said.