A fired staff member in West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s office was paid $125,000 by the state as a settlement in a 2005 lawsuit she filed after being fired for using state funds to purchase more than $141,000 promotional items bearing McGraw’s name and intended to assist his re-election effort in 2004.

Debra Lynn Whanger worked in McGraw’s office and says she bought various items for public handouts after being told to do so by her supervisors. Once the expenditures became public knowledge, she was fired shortly thereafter.

After Whanger’s dismissal, Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes conducted a radio interview and labeled Whanger as “a rogue employee” and a “cancer that had to be removed from the office.”

Thus the grounds for Whanger’s litigation.

The $125,000 settlement reached by Whanger’s legal counsel and the Board of Risk and Insurance Management may close the book on this proceeding, but it reopened a can of stink when it comes to the matter of elected public officials contorting the rules to benefit their own agendas.

We don’t believe for a minute that Whanger didn’t know what she was doing, and in the same breath we certainly think she was directed to do so by a higher up in McGraw’s office. The settlement lends credibility to the thought that there was negligence involved.

The whistle got blown on abuse of public funds and it was just like turning on a light in a dark room and watching the roaches scatter.

Another perfect example of why the public, more often than not, carries a feeling of mistrust for numerous elected officials. Certainly they are not all bad, but there is more than one bad apple in this bunch.

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