In addition to West Virginia, Visa has used the governments of Pakistan and the Dominican Republic to show how purchasing card programs save taxpayer dollars.
In the West Virginia spots, Gainer and other state officials seldom mention Visa by name.
Instead, they mostly talk about how the purchasing card program saves money - an estimated $145 million a year in West Virginia, according to the promotional videos.
In the videos, state officials also talk about the convenience of using Visa purchasing cards.
In one online ad, Mike Dorsey, DEP's chief of homeland security and emergency response, remarks, "The great thing about the card is during an emergency we can use it any place that takes Visa."
Jim Calvert, DEP's administrative services manager, also appeared in the same video.
"The agency was approached by the auditor's office about participating in the campaign by talking about the efficiencies of using the purchasing card in our day-to-day operations," said DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco. "Neither of the employees received compensation for this participation, nor did the agency, so we did not seek exemptions from the Ethics Commission beyond anything that was done by the Auditor."
State Highways Deputy Secretary Keith Chapman also appears in the online ads, including one titled, "Paving the way to government efficiency."
Chapman says in the Visa video that the card has changed the way the Department of Transportation does business.
Highways spokesman Brent Walker said Chapman agreed to take part in purchasing card videos at Gainer's request. Walker said the film crew that shot the video told Chapman his interview wouldn't be used for "promotional purposes."
Chapman never specifically mentions Visa in the videos.
"We were told it was purely for informational and educational purposes," Walker said. "To the extent that it might be viewed otherwise, he certainly did not knowingly or intentionally lend his prestige as a DOT employee to advance the purposes of any specific vendor."
Cindy Marn, WVU's associate director of purchasing services, also appears in the videos, saying the university uses Visa purchasing cards to buy meat, bread, ice cream and other products.
"There are no restrictions other than you are not permitted to buy live animals on a card," Marn says in the online ad. "There's no way WVU could operate without purchasing cards."
West Virginia agencies have issued about 7,000 Visa purchasing cards, with plans to distribute 10,000 more, according to Visa's website. Authorized employees receive the Visa cards, which act much like a credit card.
The state averages 56,000 transactions totaling $36 million each month. The cards are used for small-dollar transactions, as well as major contract payments.
The videos are available on YouTube or at: http://currencyofprogress.visa.com/category/governments-economies/.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.