CHARLESTON – Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes, who called Deborah Whanger a rogue employee and a cancer in 2004, promises not to say things like that if anyone asks for references on Whanger.
In Whanger's $125,000 settlement agreement with Attorney General Darrell McGraw, the parties agreed not to disparage each other.
The agreement states that, "... all responses by the Office of the Attorney General to requests for references for Ms. Whanger shall be neutral ..."
It states that if a prospective employer asks for references, the office will disclose only that Whanger worked there and when she did. The office won't provide that unless Whanger tells employers to contact the person in charge of references -– Fran Hughes.
Whanger worked for McGraw as consumer affairs coordinator. In July 2004, while McGraw ran for reelection, Whanger placed an order by phone for about $142,000 worth of promotional items.
The order violated state purchasing rules. It also embarrassed McGraw, as an apparent use of state money on campaign trinkets.
His opponent, Hiram Lewis, began asking questions.
In August 2004, Hughes fired Whanger. Hughes and McGraw issued a press release stating that Whanger acted without authority.
On a radio talk show, Hughes called Whanger a rogue employee and a cancer that had to be cut out.
The storm blew over, and voters gave McGraw four more years.
For Whanger, Mark Atkinson and Paul Frampton of Charleston filed suit against McGraw and Hughes in Kanawha County circuit court in 2005.
Whanger claimed McGraw and Hughes made her a scapegoat. She claimed she and others in the office worked on the campaign. She claimed she acted on instructions when she placed the order.
She argued that $142,000 did not seem like much compared to the million dollars the office had spent on television advertising.
Christopher Morris of Charleston defended McGraw and Hughes.
On April 16, Whanger released her claims for $125,000. She declared the amount adequate and satisfactory.
The agreement provides that Whanger must never apply for work in the office of the Attorney General.
The agreement states, "It is understood and agreed that this settlement is in compromise of doubtful and disputed claims ..."