- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has defended his decision to fire 16 longtime employees upon taking office and promptly hire 22 new staffers.

Warner told the Senate Finance Committee on Monday that cutting about one-third of his office’s staff last month was necessary to “move the office forward,” the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/2kYSUKR).

The firings have resulted in wrongful-termination lawsuits being filed against Warner.

The reductions were needed to deal with anticipated budget cuts, Warner’s communications director Mike Queen said last month.

Warner has since replaced the 16 employees with 22 new hires, including new positions of regional field service representatives for seven regions around the state.

Those additional hires did not increase the overall personnel budget for the office, Warner told senators Monday, explaining that the new field service positions are “an outreach to first mend the relationships with many of the county clerks.”

Warner did not elaborate, but during the campaign he had raised issues about county clerks who refused to accept online voter registrations through the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as county clerks who complained when the office sent postcards to individuals identified by a national database as being eligible to vote but unregistered.

Citing the pending litigation, Warner declined to discuss specifics of the firings, but he said, “Some of these people were leaving anyway.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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