Corruption Again Present in W.Va.?

Corruption is far from a stranger to state government in West Virginia. Worrisome hints it may be visiting Charleston again should not be dismissed merely because state officials won’t talk about the concern.

Last week it was revealed the former acting director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, Kelly Davis, will be paid $190,000 to settle a lawsuit against the state. Davis had alleged she was wrongfully terminated from her job in 2010 after questioning how some state money was being spent. State officials insisted she resigned and was incorrect in her criticism – yet the state’s insurance company decided to settle for a whopping amount of money.

During the same week it was revealed the Department of Health and Human Resources’ two top lawyers plan to sue that department.

DHHR General Counsel Jennifer Taylor, Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs Susan Perry and Assistant Secretary John Law have been on paid suspension from the DHHR since mid-July.

All three had questioned a decision to award a marketing contract to the highest of three bidders for the work. They were promptly suspended, and now Perry and Taylor say the DHHR has violated a law protecting “whistleblowers” – government employees who raise concerns about improprieties by public officials.

DHHR Secretary Rocco Fucillo has refused steadfastly to discuss why the three employees were suspended. He uses the old, familiar excuse that “personnel matters” are involved.

So what?

If Law, Taylor and Perry weren’t doing their jobs properly, the public deserves to know about it.

On the other hand, if they indeed are being disciplined for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, taxpayers deserve to know that, too.

Between the Davis case and the DHHR suspensions, too many questions about how state money is being spent – and whether coverups of wrongdoing are in progress – have been raised. It’s time for the public to get some answers. If the executive branch of government, headed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, won’t provide them, legislators should launch investigations. And if that doesn’t happen, perhaps prosecuting attorneys and grand juries should become involved.