West Virginia Ethics Commission Allows Former DHHR Official to Work as Lobbyist | News, Sports, Jobs

The West Virginia Ethics Commission has signed an advisory opinion allowing former DHHR deputy secretary Jeremiah Samples to seek employment and lobbying opportunities in the private sector. (Photo courtesy of WV Legislative Photography)

CHARLESTON — Jeremiah Samples, the former assistant secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources until he parted ways with the agency last month, may seek employment or lobbying opportunities from companies with activities before the DHHR, with exceptions, a state agency decided on Thursday. The West Virginia Ethics Commission voted in favor of an amended advisory opinion requested by the former assistant secretary asking if he is subject to post-employment restrictions in the Ethics Act, including provisions prohibiting state officials from lobbying the state for a year after his departure. government employment. Theresa Kirk, general counsel for the Ethics Commission, said she believed that since Samples was serving at the whim of the DHHR cabinet secretary whose position was not subject to appointment and did not report to the governor, that many provisions of the Ethics Act limiting the types of jobs that former public servants can obtain do not apply.
“The commission considers that the applicant can seek employment in the private and public sectors, register as a lobbyist without waiting a year and appear before his former agency as a representative subject to limitations”, said Kirk. The only limitation in the Ethics Act that would apply to the samples would be any post-employment involvement in cases where the samples had previously been involved in decision-making as an assistant secretary.
“Given his high level of employment, there is no doubt that he was personally and substantially involved in cases such as these, so there may be instances which would subject him to this provision,” said Kirk. Robert Wolfe, chair of the ethics committee, proposed an amendment to the advisory opinion stating that the committee encourages the applicant to seek further advice from ethics committee staff if there is any question as to whether there is a conflict involving his current job and his previous job as Deputy Secretary of DHHR.
“We’re not out to catch people to do things; we are here to educate them and help them comply with many government regulations,” Wolfe said. “It would be more of a helping hand to any individual, not necessarily this one, but in this case maybe just a note that you could talk to him and say that you might want to have this run by the agency.”
The Ethics Act includes a number of prohibitions for certain state employees, such as a ban on accepting jobs at companies they regulate as state employees, restrictions on seeking employment with other state agencies and a ban on lobbying state agencies and legislators for one year after leaving state employment. State employees can request waivers from the Ethics Commission on some of these prohibitions. DHHR fired Samples on April 7, confirming in a statement that Samples was no longer employed by DHHR, but declining to comment further citing personnel issues. In his own statement, Samples said he and DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch argued about how to fix the agency’s problems and the major health and social issues the agency is tasked with addressing. Samples spent more than 15 years with DHHR, including serving as Assistant Cabinet Secretary from 2013 and rising to Deputy Secretary in 2017 after the Justice appointed Crouch as DHHR Secretary. . Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at sadams@newsandsentinel.com.

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