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West Virginia Gov. Justice appoints fired chief of staff to prestigious state job

By PHIL KABLER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four months after unceremoniously firing him as his chief of staff, Gov. Jim Justice has appointed Charleston lawyer Nick Casey to a prestigious state appeals board.

Nick Casey

Justice appointed Casey to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review, a three-member judicial panel that hears appeals of Workers’ Compensation claims.

Casey replaces W. Jack Stevens as a Democrat member of the board. By statute, the position pays a salary of $103,836.
“It kind of came out of nowhere,” Casey said Wednesday of his appointment. “It was unexpected, certainly, and appreciated.”

He added, “I’m very pleased the governor appointed me.”

Casey said he appreciated that the governor had considered him for the appointment, given the friction surrounding his departure from the Governor’s Office on Aug. 14 — 11 days after Justice announced at a President Donald Trump rally that he was switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

After initially indicating that he would not make significant changes to his leadership team despite the party flip, Justice fired Casey via phone call, and later told reporters that he’d decided it wouldn’t work out because Casey’s wife is a “rock-ribbed” Democrat.

Casey, a former state Democratic Party chairman, said that story was “conflated,” and was a cover for pressure legislative leaders had put on Justice to replace him with a Republican chief of staff.

Since leaving the Governor’s Office, Casey said, he has served as a mediator and a guardian ad litem in a number of cases, and had taught a class at the University of Charleston, but he had planned to wait until the first of the year to pursue a full-time position.

“I’ve been looking at several other options,” Casey said, adding, “Then, lo and behold, this came along.”

Casey said he holds no animosity toward Justice over his firing.

“I never had any ill feelings. I’m a big boy; I get it,” Casey said. “When you work for a governor, you know you’re a will-and-pleasure employee.”

Justice spokesman Butch Antolini confirmed Justice’s appointment of Casey, who begins work in his new position Jan. 2.

Casey’s appointment will have to be confirmed by the West Virginia Senate during the 2018 regular session. The Senate’s leadership pushed to have him removed from the Governor’s Office.

Nonetheless, Casey said he looks forward to the confirmations process.

Reach Phil Kabler at [email protected], 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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