CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The chief of staff for Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin called state Treasurer John Perdue last week and asked him to call the Troopers Association and ask that they remove a photograph of Perdue and association members from the association website.
Association President John Smith and former president and current board member Joe Adams have both been involuntarily transferred after they appeared in a photo endorsing Perdue in the upcoming gubernatorial primary election.
"[Perdue] said basically that he had nothing to do with the association or the website but that he would call and talk to Joe Adams and let him know that he called," said Perdue campaign spokesman George Manahan said.
Tomblin spokeswoman Jacqueline Proctor confirmed that Chief of Staff Rob Alsop called Perdue to discuss the photo after the State Police brought its concerns about the photo showing two of its undercover officers to Tomblin's attention.
"He wanted to make sure that [Perdue] was aware of it because he knows ... that the Treasurer's Office is just as concerned about officer safety as the Governor's Office is," Proctor said.
When asked if such issues had arisen in the past, her response was, "I understand that something occurred in the past that was similar in nature and that there was a concern."
The union's representative, Elaine Harris, said she wasn't aware of anything like that.
"I think at some point there may have been some discussion about officer safety and someone that holds an office, but what I've understood is that whether they are uniformed or undercover, there are always issues of officer safety," she said. "There ought to have been a way to work through this before it escalated to what it has today."
Both Smith and Adams were transferred out of the department's Bureau of Criminal Investigations -- the State Police covert and undercover operations unit -- and to patrol duty, according to numerous State Police sources.
Smith declined to discuss the matter Tuesday, saying he and Adams had been ordered by State Police officials not to discuss it.
The Troopers Association endorsed Perdue in the governor's campaign last month, shortly after Col. Jay Smithers became superintendent of the State Police. A memorandum was issued making it impossible for leadership of the Trooper Association to be members of BCI.
After Perdue made the phone call to Adams, the photo on the website changed. A second photo, with just Adams in it, was swapped out and Adams' face was blurred.
"[Perdue] made the call. He didn't ask them to do one thing or the other," Manahan said. "I think it's sad that the Earl Ray Tomblin administration would violate the rights of two troopers because they feel threatened by the Perdue campaign's late surge in the primary election...Every worker, let alone every state trooper, should feel threatened by this punitive political move. "
Proctor said that Alsop calling Perdue was not a political move.