CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Tax Commissioner Craig Griffith plans to step down and has asked the state Ethics Commission for an exemption that will allow him to take a job in the private sector.
State ethics laws prohibit public officials from seeking jobs with businesses or firms that they or their department regulate. Griffith's department regulates every business and firm that pays taxes in the state.
Ethics Commission Executive Director Theresa Kirk approved a temporary exemption earlier this month allowing Griffith to begin a job search. The commission is scheduled to vote on a full exemption at its December meeting.
"I just felt like it was time to go back into the private sector," Griffith told the Charleston Daily Mail.
Griffith, 38, was appointed tax commissioner by former Gov. Joe Manchin on June 30, 2011. He had been serving as interim commissioner since March 2010.
"I've greatly enjoyed this; I've worked with two great governors and several top-notch secretaries of revenue. It's an immeasurable experience for me," he said.
West Virginia's business climate has improved in recent years because of efforts by the department and state officials to lower business and sales taxes. The e-filing process and reform of the business registration process have improved the way taxpayers work with the state, he said.
"I think from our perspective, we've worked well with the business community," Griffith said. "While we can't respond to everything they've asked for, we do take account a lot of what they say in restructuring our tax code."
Griffith was a tax consultant and associate attorney at law and accounting firms for seven years before he began working at the tax department in June 2007.
He said he has not applied for any private sector jobs yet.