CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Another member of the Justice administration is departing.
Derek Scarbro, director of intergovernmental affairs, gave notice on Friday. His departure is expected to take place in September.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Scarbro served as campaign manager and then transition director for Jim Justice.
But Scarbro had served for a decade, from 2003 to 2013, as executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee.
He, like other Justice staffers, found himself suddenly serving in a Republican administration when Gov. Jim Justice switched political parties during an Aug. 3 rally for President Donald Trump.
Justice initially said, repeatedly, that he had hired his staff for their skills, rather than their party affiliation. He said they were welcome to stay unless they personally believed they would no longer fit in.
All indications are that Scarbro’s resignation was his own decision. Others in the administration said Scarbro had already decided to pursue other opportunities. His wife, Sara, last spring was named associate vice president for external engagement at the Marshall University Research Corporation.
“Unfortunately for some who may be curious, this is a little more dull,” Scarbro said today, adding that his family had decided in May to move to Huntington.
He said his family bought a house in the Huntington area and moved about a week ago. Scarbro also said he has lined up a new job. “I hate to sound cliche but nothing much to see here.”
This past week, during a news conference at the Capitol, Justice hinted strongly that more departures could be coming.
Asked by a reporter whether any coming changes would be initiated by the employees or by Justice himself, the governor said he would likely be the one instigating.
“It will probably come from me,” he said. “And again, I think you just have to be really fair and just state this: Some people on my staff — not in my cabinet — my staff has been primarily hand-picked all from the Democrat side, and that makes it cumbersome and difficult for them. It’s going to be cumbersome and difficult for them working for the Legislature and all that kind of stuff, so there’s some things we still have to address there.”
Asked by another reporter if he is being told by staff that they’re uncomfortable with the new shape of the administration or if he’s reading party affiliation into their work history, Justice said sometimes it’s clear.
“If you absolutely know and you know their performance is not going to work, then I would go to them and I would sit down and I would say this is not going to work,” Justice said.
So far, several members of the governor’s staff have left — either voluntarily or not.
The governor fired chief of staff Nick Casey on Aug. 14. Casey was a former Democratic Party chairman and ran for Congress as a Democrat.
Scarbro was a former employee of Casey’s law firm, Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins, where he served as government affairs manager from 2013 to 2014.
In firing Casey, the governor initially described disappointment over the outcomes of the most recent legislative session.
Casey said he was fired for being a Democrat. Justice came to acknowledge that in part, saying he believed Casey’s history as a strong Democrat would make it hard for him personally to serve in a Republican administration.
“The entire reason there is just one thing and one thing alone,” Justice said last Saturday night. “Nick’s home life, his home; his wife is a rock solid Democrat. I respect that, completely. It makes life a little tougher. I asked Nick a month before this announcement, and I said ‘Nick if it’s going to make anything uncomfortable in anyway, you’re going to have to go.’
“For a month, Nick was ‘No governor I’m with you all in, all in.’ When it got to D-Day you could tell there was concern. And when I saw there was concern, I saw it was over. Nick said that about his wife. And he said ‘You know I was the chairman of the Democratic Party for a while.’ It had to be over.”
Casey this past week said that the firing along party lines indicated Justice had become “a political hack.”
Other members of Justice’s staff have either left already or have signaled intentions to leave.
Joey Garcia, the senior counsel for legislation and policy, filed for a waiver with the state Ethics Commission to search for work elsewhere while continuing to serve in the administration. Garcia had also served as deputy general counsel and director of legislative affairs in the administration of Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Justice press secretary Grant Herring reported to the Capitol the day after the party switch but left that afternoon and did not return to duty. Justice acknowledged this week that Herring is gone. Herring worked for a number of Democratic campaigns prior to joining Justice.
Another of the communications staff, Marcus Constantino, whose main responsibilities were video and social media, also left right after the party switch announcement.
Last week, Labor Commissioner David Mullins resigned. Mullins had served in the same position in previous Democratic administrations. He was a longtime member of the International Union of Operating Engineers.