CHARLESTON – Ten lawsuits have been filed by former employees of the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office against current Secretary Mac Warner, alleging he wrongfully terminated their employment.
The plaintiffs include Rose McCoy, business clerk; Timothy Richards, business and licensing specialist; Nancy Hamilton, head receptionist; Cristie Hamilton, elections specialist; Tammy Roberts, elections specialist; Samuel Speciale, public affairs specialist; Layna Valentine-Brown, elections director; Anna-Dean Mathewson, business and licensing specialist; Christina Stowers, receptionist; and David Nichols, legal assistant.
The former employees claim they were part of a 16-employee purge when Warner took office in January, according to 10 complaints filed July 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
They claim they were part of a mass firing orchestrated by Warner so he could replace longtime office staffers with handpicked new hires. They claim his actions violated state law and the West Virginia Constitution.
During the post-election transition, Warner wrote a letter to Natalie Tennant, stating that 16 positions would be cut when he took office. He had initially claimed that the firings were part of an effort to downsize to reduce costs. However, when he hired new employees, he hired 22.
The former employees claim 15 of the 16 fired employees were registered Democrats, and 19 of the 22 new employees are registered Republicans.
Many of the former employees had between eight and 50 years of experience and were replaced by employees with little or no governmental experience, according to the suits.
Several of the former employees also claim they were discriminated against based on their age, gender and/or race.
The plaintiffs are being represented by C. Benjamin Salango, Brett J. Preston, Mark Atkinson and John-Mark Atkinson.
Steven Adams, Warner's assistant communications director, said the office does not comment on pending litigation.
The cases are assigned to Circuit Judges Louis H. Bloom, Jennifer Bailey and Tod J. Kaufman.
Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 17-C-1075, 17-C-1076, 17-C-1077, 17-C-1078, 17-C-1079, 17-C-1080, 17-C-1081, 17-C-1082, 17-C-1084, 17-C-1085