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With reinstatement of ‘ape in heels’ commenter at hand, state government scrutinizes contracts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The State of West Virginia is examining its options with its contractual dealings with the Clay Development Corporation, where the director is reportedly coming back to work after using social media to refer to first lady Michelle Obama as an “ape in heels.”

The Clay Development Authority is not a state agency, but it does have contracts to provide services to West Virginians through two state agencies, the Bureau for Medical Services at the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Bureau of Senior Services.

“As a result of recent comments made by the Corporation’s director, Ms. Pamela Taylor, we have been and continue to review those contracts to determine any alternatives the state might have,” according to a statement released today by Jessica Tice, communications director for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Taylor stirred up a firestorm in mid-November with a Facebook post following Donald Trump’s election as president.

The post read: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

The post received international criticism, and Taylor was removed from her job at Clay Development Corporation, a non-profit that administers senior services programs.

On Sunday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Taylor’s suspension is scheduled to end and that she would return to her job Dec. 23. The newspaper cited a letter from the agency’s acting director to the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services.

Tomblin’s administration has sent its own letter to Clay Development Corp’s board of directors, requesting “specific guarantees that neither Ms. Taylor, nor any other employee, has acted in a discriminatory manner in providing services.”

The letter also requests copies of the Corporation’s affirmative action plan and anti-discrimination policies and practices and how employees have been trained on these policies.

The letter, signed by the commissioners of the state Bureau for Medical Services and the state Bureau of Senior Services, is here.





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