CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Businessman Bray Cary, whose voluntary role has become increasingly central to the Justice administration, officially joined the state payroll this morning.

Cary is now listed as making $8.75 an hour for the administration, according to the state Auditor’s office, which checked the payroll upon request today.

The change was made because Cary’s prior voluntary status had been confusing, said Brian Abraham, general counsel for the Justice administration.

“As we saw a need arise for him to interact with agencies or outside the office, we didn’t want to continue to create the confusion,” Abraham said. “We thought it would be better to make it an official position.”

He said Cary did not want to receive retirement or benefits “So the only way to get him down to entitled to nothing was to get him down to that point,” Abraham said.

The administration sought the lowest possible rung the pay system would accept which Abraham described as minimum wage and 15 hours a week. “He probably averages 60 hours a week,” Abraham said.

The pay system automatically branded Cary a “temporary employee,” Abraham said, although Cary’s actual title is “senior adviser.

Asked if he could describe the organizational chart for the administration, Abraham said, “The governor has directed us to act collaboratively with the chief.”

Cary’s paychecks will be relatively light for someone of such prominence. But, as a board member for the EQT natural gas company who has significant stock holdings, Cary may not need a top-shelf government salary.

Brad McElhinny/MetroNews

Bray Cary, a citizen volunteer for Gov. Jim Justice, is first to arrive for a stakeholders meeting about sports gaming.

The businessman’s status drew national attention this week as he led a private meeting among representatives of West Virginia’s casinos and professional sports leagues.

West Virginia is out in front among states anticipating an imminent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court may allow for broadened betting on sports events.

That has created interest among those who cover the gambling industry nationwide.

West Virginia passed its sports betting law this past legislative session. Governor Justice let the bill pass into law without his signature because his family owns The Greenbrier resort, which has a casino and also hosts The Greenbrier Classic PGA event.

But a big issue has continued to percolate.

Major sports leagues say they should be paid an “integrity fee” — a slice of the wagers. Justice has been receptive to that position, so his administration gathered the players this week at “The War Room” at state Lottery headquarters.

Cary facilitated the meeting, said several of those who were there. In the afternoon, he separated the sports leagues and the casinos into separate rooms, engaging in a kind of shuttle diplomacy.

That raised some questions about the role of the Justice administration and about the guy leading the high-stakes negotiations without an official job.

Cary’s status in the governor’s office has been under scrutiny since December, after the publication of a Charleston Gazette-Mail article detailing his “citizen volunteer” status within the governor’s office.

Cary had been unpaid but has a reserved parking spot at the Capitol along with round-the-clock access to the Statehouse through an official swipe card. Even then, observers said he was taking part in policy-oriented meetings.

Cary, probably best known as the owner of West Virginia Media television stations and as the host of “Decision Makers,” has served on EQT’s board since 2008.

He is chairman of the corporate governance committee and is a member of its executive and management development and compensation committees. EQT’s corporate governance policy says it is the duty of the board of directors to serve as a fiduciary of the company.

Cary has bought several rounds of shares of EQT stock about this time last year. The largest was a purchase in June of 22,627 shares valued at $1,209,186.

His most recent purchase of 558 shares of EQT stock occurred this past April 2, valued at $26,510.

He bought another round valued at $31,761 on Jan. 2, a round valued at $26,487 last Oct. 2 and a round valued at $23,494 last July 3.

The situation prompted state lawmakers to pass a bill requiring “public servant volunteers” working in official capacities in the government to submit ethics disclosures. For short, lawmakers and lobbyists called it “The Bray Cary bill.”

The Legislature also passed a bill clarifying aspects of royalty rights on natural gas drilling projects.

EQT is now suing the Justice administration over that bill, even as one of its board members leads the administration’s day-day-to-day operations.

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