Gayle Manchin responds to her firing - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Gayle Manchin responds to her firing

Posted: Updated:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) Former West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin responded Tuesday to Governor Jim Justice's decision to fire her Monday from her post as Sec. of Education and the Arts.

The ouster came after Manchin had sent out a press release calling on the governor to save the agency despite an order to stay silent by his Chief of Staff Mike Hall. 

Legislation that passed in both the House and Senate called for the department to be eliminated and reorganized under different departments. As of Tuesday evening, Gov. Justice was still weighing action on the legislation.

In an interview with WVVA News on Tuesday, Manchin acknowledged she was "throwing down the gauntlet" in Monday's press release, saying she had reached out to Hall early Monday for direction on how to respond to the numerous questions she had received regarding her department's future. Manchin said she was told by Hall not to send out a release and that he would be in touch with the governor immediately and get back to her. But as hours went by, she said she couldn't wait any longer. 
In her statement, Manchin said she would resign from her position if it would help remove “political pressure” from the Republican governor and save the Department of Education and the Arts.

"(Hall) said I had defied him, the Chief of Staff, because he said don't put out the press release but he never got back to me. He said I want your resignation. I said the Governor hired me. The Governor can fire me."

Manchin said said her offer to resign was contingent on Justice protecting the department. 

When asked for clarification on what she meant by political pressure, Manchin said "the whole premise of the bill from the beginning was to move the professional development program from the Center for Professional Development, under me, to the Dept. of Education. But they dismantled the whole cabinet. So twice in the Senate committee they entered an amendment to move the Center for Professional Development to the Dept. of Education. Both times it was defeated. That tells me this is not about professional development." 

Manchin added that funding for many of the  Education and Arts programs would need a considerable amount of time to reorganize in order to ensure their continued funding, especially Volunteer West Virginia and the Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, (DRS). 

"For DRS, they have to have state meetings, submit a new state plan, send it to the national office. They have to okay it. Then that comes back before they ever start the transfer of money. That means if by June 30, they don't have it done, on July 1st, 600 people don't get a paycheck. 19,000 clients don't get services." 

Despite her firing, Manchin said she would be willing to step in and help in the transition process to make sure the programs continue. 

"They're not programs, they're people who feel at risk at this moment. And we need to deal with it."

Gov. Jim Justice sent out the following release Monday on his decision to terminate Manchin: 

"We have not made a decision yet on legislation (HB 4006) to reorganize the Department of the Education and the Arts," Gov. Justice said. "Earlier today, Secretary Manchin asked the Chief of Staff, Mike Hall, about how she should approach this. She was told by the Chief of Staff to do nothing based upon my public comments this morning, and that my decision to veto or sign this bill has not been made. Later in the day, she decided to defy the Chief of Staff's instructions and issued a press release. In her press release she offered to resign and remove any political cloud. If there weren't any earlier political cloud, now there surely is one. She was very critical, made it political, and put me in a very, very bad position.

"She was told that we accepted her resignation, she refused, and we terminated her. 

"As I have been saying for the last several days, we are continuing to examine this legislation looking for cost savings, how to preserve and promote the arts, and to make absolutely, positively certain that none of the programs or our citizens will be harmed in any way. And we will continue to do exactly that.

"I sincerely appreciate the years of service Secretary Manchin has given to the State of West Virginia."

On Wednesday, Gov. Justice appointed W. Clayton Burch as acting Secretary for the Department of Education and the Arts. He previously served as Associate State Superintendent of Schools.

Powered by Frankly