- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Ethics Commission fired its executive director Thursday but gave no reason.

The commission voted 5-4 to end Joan Parker’s tenure as executive director by the end of Thursday. The commission discussed her firing behind closed doors for about an hour.

Parker started as director in February 2013. She previously served as the commission’s general counsel for four years.

Ethics Commissioner the Rev. Douglas Sutton said the panel believed Parker’s termination was in the best interest of the commission. He said the commission is not stating a reason for the dismissal because Parker is an employee at will and there are liability issues.

“We have respect for her and appreciate what she’s done for us, and we wish her the best in the future,” Sutton said.

Commissioners gave Parker a brief standing ovation before they cleared the room to discuss her termination.

“I’ve done everything within my power, even when it was unpopular, to confirm compliance with the Ethics Act,” said Parker, fighting back tears with a box of tissues in front of her.

Commission Chairman Kemp Morton would not disclose why Parker was fired. He said he already had an interim executive director lined up.

Morton said he considered everything mentioned in the closed discussions to be confidential.

Parker said the law doesn’t shield conversations in closed sessions just because a board says they will be confidential.

Sutton said the talks should still be kept secret.

“All I can say is, as a gentleman, when I go into a private discussion with somebody, I expect my confidence to be kept,” Sutton said.

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