Gov. Justice fires Gayle Manchin

Steve Rotsch  Governor's OfficeGov. Jim Justice greets Gayle Manchin his administrations education and arts secretary during a ceremony

Steve Rotsch Governor's OfficeGov. Jim Justice greets Gayle Manchin his administrations education and arts secretary during a ceremony

Jim Justice has removed Gayle Manchin as secretary of Education and the Arts after she released a statement Monday critical of House Bill 4006, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature this weekend with the goal of dismantling the Department of Education and the Arts. The board called for 'the removal of statutes that encroach upon WVBE's authority to direct professional development'.

"I don't think it's just because I'm Joe Manchin's wife. I think the Republicans of this state believe everybody in a position like this should be a Republican".

"In her press release, she offered to resign and remove any political cloud", Justice continued in his statement.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Gov. Jim Justice took her up on it.

The Justice statement also said Manchin had been asked to do nothing while awaiting more information from the administration. "She was very critical, made it political, and put me in a very, very bad position", he said.

"We have not made a decision yet on legislation [House Bill 4006] to reorganize the Department of the Education and the Arts", Justice said of a bill the West Virginia Legislature has passed.

The bill would eliminate the secretary's position, which pays $95,000 a year.

Gayle Manchin, speaking on "Talkline", described the timeline of what happened Monday.

She said she spoke with Justice administration chief of staff Mike Hall, explaining her concerns and those of the employees in her department.

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She said her directors were calling and, "people are scared to death", and that she had called Hall and told him she wanted to put out a news release basically saying what she eventually did say in her news release. "These are people and people's lives".

Hall promised the governor would call her, Manchin said, but two hours went by.

Manchin, a former First Lady of West Virginia, proceeded to ignore the directive by issuing a press release denouncing the alleged political motives behind the legislature's decision to defund her agency.

"I just felt that the gauntlet had to be thrown down on this", Manchin said.

"In her press release she offered to resign and remove any political cloud".

"What was said was that I defied the chief of staff". And I reminded him that he told me he would call the governor immediately and call me.

"It's a shame that Governor Justice, who said he didn't have a political bone in his body, has become such a hardcore partisan".

Manchin says she responded, "I'm sorry I won't resign under this circumstance".

And then she was told her services were no longer required.

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"And we will continue to do exactly that", he said.

The letter requests Justice designate a state spending unit to receive funds for the Lottery, federal and special-revenue accounts for the program.

Every day there is a delay on the status of the programs, Manchin said, funding is at risk. She said Abraham said they were still vetting the bill, but she said, "You should have already had it vetted". "Wouldn't you think the governor's office, someone on his staff, might say maybe we should look at what the ramifications are".

The state Department of Education sent out a series of tweets yesterday meant to assure responsible handling of programs that may be transferred to it.

"It would put the same thing back in motion, there would be no cabinet secretary so they would just dissolve everything, so that really doesn't solve everything", she said.

House Finance Chairman Paul Espinosa, who was an earlier guest on "Talkline", said the bill that would dismantle the Department of Education and the Arts has been in development for two years.

Proponents of the legislation said it would save money and create more efficiency.

"From our perspective this has never been about the secretary".

"She was told that we accepted her resignation, she refused, and we terminated her". "I've always been an advocate for the arts", she said. I'll always be an advocate for these programs.

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"It's been a privilege to serve in this position".

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