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Another prominent Democrat leaving Justice administration


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Another member of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s staff has turned in his resignation following Justice’s switch from the Democratic to the Republican party.

Derek Scarbro

Derek Scarbro, a prominent Democrat and part of Justice’s hand-picked team, will be leaving the governor’s office of intergovernmental affairs in September.

Justice’s office issued a one-sentence statement on the departure on Monday.

“Derek Scarbro tendered his two weeks notice on Friday, August 25, 2017,” Justice Communications Director Butch Antolini said.

Justice ran for the office of governor as a Democrat, and had the backing of many prominent Democrats during the campaign. Scarbro initially served as Justice’s campaign manager, then served as transition director following Justice’s election in November 2016.

In January, Scarbro was appointed director of the intergovernmental affairs office. Although at the time the governor said his appointments were based on experience and work ability and not political party, several key figures in the statewide Democratic party ended up with cabinet positions or on Justice’s staff.

Scarbro served as executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee from 2003 to 2013. He served as government affairs manager for the law firm Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins from 2013 to 2014 under former Justice Chief of Staff Nick Casey.

On Aug. 3, Justice announced at a rally for President Donald Trump in Huntington that he was switching from the Democratic party to the Republican party, later saying the switch was done in part because he thought the change would help West Virginia garner support from Trump. On Aug. 14, Justice fired Casey, former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

At a news conference Aug. 21, Justice said he fired Casey once it became apparent that, as a staunch Democrat, it would be difficult for Casey to work with a Republican governor. Casey, however, has said the firing was political, and has publicly called Justice a political “hack.”

At the same press conference, Justice also said he would not be surprised if other members of his staff or cabinet resigned. At the press conference, Justice said any Democratic staff member who found himself or herself “uncomfortable” working for a Republican “would have to go.”

Several members of the governor’s staff already have departed since the governor switched parties. Grant Herring, Justice’s spokesman during the campaign and after the governor took office, left shortly after Justice switched parties. Herring has worked on several Democratic campaigns.

Marcus Constantino, a member of Justice’s communications staff who also worked for former Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, also has left.

State Labor Commissioner David Mullins, who served in the position under former Democratic governors, also has resigned.

Scarbro did not return phone calls seeking comment on Monday. However, other sources have said Scarbro had planned on leaving the Justice administration even before the governor’s party switch. Scarbro has reportedly bought a home in Huntington.

There also has been speculation that Bill Crouch, head of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, will be leaving the Justice administration. Crouch could not be reached for comment on Monday.

But at least one Democratic member of Justice’s administration appears to be staying. On Aug. 21, Justice said he had no intention of firing state Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy.

Hardy, a CPA and attorney, also said he intended to stay on with the governor. Hardy said his job deals with numbers, not politics.

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