CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Without giving a reason, members of the West Virginia Ethics Commission voted 5-4 to fire Executive Director Joan Parker at a Thursday morning meeting. The decision came after about an hour of discussion behind closed doors.
Chairman Kemp Morton, who participated in the meeting by phone, said Parker was an at-will employee and that no reason needed to be given for her termination. He has “an interim executive director lined up” but wouldn’t name the individual.
“Executive Parker is an employee at will. The commission is being reconstituted and we simply felt it was in the best interest that she be relieved,” said Father Douglas Sutton, vice chairman of the commission.
Sutton, who was one of six commission members in favor of firing Parker, said “I don’t want to answer that question,” when asked why he voted for termination.
“Under employee-at-will law, if you offer a reason, then you open up the whole potential issue, you see,” Sutton said after the meeting.
“People had their own reasons, there were multiple reasons, and there were good points and bad points. But I’d rather keep my own reasons to myself and simply, we did this under the law in West Virginia as an employee at will.”
He said he didn’t agree with a reporter who asked if there was a lack of openness from the commission, and declined to answer further questions.
While the chairperson of the commission can only vote in the event of a tie, it was never made clear if Sutton’s vote as acting chairman for the meeting or Kemp’s vote actually counted. Both voiced support for firing Parker, as did commissioners Terry Walker, Michael Greer, Betty Ireland and Robert Wolfe.
Commissioners Jack Buckalew, Dreama Radford, Monte Williams and Susan Singleton voted against firing Parker.
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