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Governor wants speedy end to bid case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As the paid reassignment leaves for three Department of Health and Human Resources administrators passed the eight-week mark, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a statement Wednesday calling for the matter to be resolved in a "speedy and responsible manner."

"I want everyone to know that I take very seriously allegations relating to potential criminal activity and those relating to whistleblowing. Both are serious," Tomblin said in a prepared statement.

"It is clear that the authorities are investigating this matter and I hope they get to the bottom of this in a speedy and responsible manner. I want to make it clear that I will not tolerate wrongdoing by any state employee," Tomblin concluded.

On July 17, DHHR acting secretary Rocco Fucillo took the disciplinary actions against attorneys Susan Perry and Jennifer Taylor and communications chief John Law without explanation.

Last week, Perry and Taylor filed a 30-day notice of intent to sue Fucillo and the DHHR, alleging that, among other issues, Fucillo had violated the state whistleblower protection act, a law that makes it illegal to punish state employees for reporting government waste or abuse.

The two, along with Law, reportedly had raised concerns about the pending award of the DHHR's advertising and marketing contract to the highest of four bidders, a contract awarded to Columbus, Ohio-based Fahlgren Mortine two days after the suspensions.

On Tuesday, Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants obtained a search warrant for DHHR headquarters to seize various documents, files and communications by the three administrators. The nine-page warrant alleges that the actions of the three to intervene in the awarding of the contract may have constituted an illegal inference, or possible bid rigging.

In August, DHHR Inspector General David Bishop had requested the assistance of the prosecutor's office, in part because the inspector general's office has limited subpoena powers.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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