"I have not received complaints from employees about Ms. George's travel," Fry said.
A Workforce West Virginia employee first complained about George in March 2011, records show. The employee also called state Auditor Glen Gainer's office, which issues payments to reimburse state employee travel.
In response, a Workforce West Virginia administrator directed the agency employee to circumvent state travel regulations, the worker alleged in her letter to Gainer's office. George's headquarters office was changed on March 28, 2011, from Charleston to Fairmont, where George lives, even though she does not work in Fairmont.
The change prevented the auditor's office from denying George's reimbursement requests. On paper, at least, George worked in Fairmont, so the state could pick up her travel to Charleston.
"I have to process these payments, as instructed ..." the Workforce West Virginia employee wrote. "Changing headquarters to Fairmont only makes it look good on paper. This is an every week occurrence, not just a once-in-a-while trip to headquarters."
On Jan. 7, a Workforce West Virginia employee - it's not clear if it was the same person who raised questions about George in 2011 - determined that George had inflated her mileage by 10 miles each way from Fairmont to Charleston. The employee, who claimed to review travel expenses at the agency, subtracted $22 a week from George's mileage reimbursement.
But that apparently didn't sit well with the higher-ups at Workforce West Virginia.
"I was instructed to 'change it back,'" the Workforce West Virginia employee wrote to auditors. "Because of who this person is (I don't know what her value is), the mileage adjustment was not permitted..."
The state subsequently reimbursed George for the extra mileage previously deducted.
The Gazette tried to contact George Tuesday. The state phone directory lists a number for George at Workforce West Virginia's Fairmont office.
However, the agency's office manager told the Gazette, "Claudia is actually stationed at our Charleston office."
The Gazette left phone and email messages for George on Tuesday, but she did not respond to a request for comment.
Workforce West Virginia, which receives funds from the U.S. Department of Labor, picks up George's $100-a-night stay at the Holiday Inn from Monday through Thursday. She leaves the Charleston office and spends Friday night at home in Fairmont, travel records show. The state agency also pays $51 a day for George's meals Tuesday to Thursday, and $38.25 a day on Mondays and Fridays.
Workforce West Virginia Finance Director Brock Jarrett, who submitted George's travel forms to the state auditor's office, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment Tuesday.
George isn't the only state official whose travel has been questioned in recent months.
Last year, the acting chief of the state Department of Health and Human Resources collected more than $3,000 to commute from near home in Clarksburg to Charleston. A DHHR spokeswoman said Rocco Fucillo was reimbursed for travel from the agency's White Hall office to Charleston. DHHR is headquartered in downtown Charleston.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.