CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Claudia D. George gets more perks than most state employees - far more.
Workforce West Virginia picks up the cost of George's weekly 376-mile commute from her home in Fairmont to her office at the state Capitol Complex in Charleston. The state agency, whose employment programs are funded by the federal government, also pays George $51 a day for meals, and $100 a day for a hotel room at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Charleston.
In other words, she comes to work, stays the week, eats free, and returns home on weekends. All free of charge. All at taxpayer expense.
George has had the special arrangement since 2010, even though it's listed as a "temporary assignment." She's accumulated $78,000 in expenses. Her bosses at Workforce West Virginia approved the travel expenses and job assignment.
George, an assistant director at Workforce West Virginia who oversees 21 field offices, also gets a $62,640 salary.
On at least three occasions, mid-level managers at Workforce West Virginia have alerted their superiors and the state auditor's office about George's job perks, but nothing was done, according to memos filed with the state auditor's office.
"This is FRAUD, and misspending of state funds," wrote a Workforce West Virginia employee who reviews George's expenses.
Another employee commented to state officials, "I think it's unjust that an employee is paid to commute 138 miles each way to work each and every week, and get paid mileage, lodging, and meals while here. That is 100 percent expenses paid plus salary."
On Tuesday, Workforce West Virginia officials said George's "temporary assignment" and commuting and living expense reimbursements would end this Friday.
"On Feb. 1., Ms. George will become acting director of field operations for Workforce West Virginia, and her official duty station for that position will be Charleston, so her travel expenses will be altered," said Russell Fry, the agency's acting executive director, in a prepared statement.
Workforce West Virginia officials said George, a 38-year state employee, initially oversaw only the agency's field offices in northern West Virginia. But the southern West Virginia field office director resigned, and George took over all 21 regional offices in October 2010.
Fry said George has traveled from Fairmont to other locations outside Charleston.
"All documentation of her travel expenses have been filed with the West Virginia State Auditor in accordance with state regulations," Fry said.
The agency posted the job opening for the southern West Virginia field office position, interviewed three candidates and selected George for the job, Fry said. George kept her duties in northern West Virginia.
Fry said George's special assignment saved the state money.
"The statewide travel expenses for the position are less expensive than hiring a second assistant director," he said.
Fry said he wasn't aware that agency employees had complained until Tuesday, after the Gazette notified Workforce West Virginia about the complaint letters on file with the auditor's office.