CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Manchin administration told the current head of the Department of Health and Human Resources that he should not be allowed to work in Charleston fewer than five days a week and lead a state agency, according to court records.
That condition cost current DHHR Secretary Rocco Fucillo the top job at the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity in 2010, according to a deposition given by a top Manchin official.
But the Manchin-era condition didn't stop Fucillo from ignoring the advice two years later, nor did Manchin-era thinking prevent the Tomblin administration from allowing Fucillo to lead the state's largest agency while working part of the week in Charleston.
This year, Fucillo led a large division of DHHR and then took the helm of the whole agency. The Tomblin administration apparently assented to Fucillo's flexible schedule, which allowed him to work part of the time from near his home in Clarksburg.
Fucillo has a wife and two sons and has said it's not possible for him to move to Charleston.
Fucillo's commute has cost the state several thousand dollars this year. Fucillo told WCHS-TV in August that reimbursements for his trip ended after he and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office agreed they would "no longer be appropriate."
But the deposition also raises questions about how well Fucillo can manage DHHR, the largest state agency, without coming to Charleston five days a week.
Former Manchin Chief of Staff Jim Spears gave sworn testimony in May about Fucillo.
The testimony came in a mostly unrelated case involving a former official at the economic opportunity office. The office's former acting director, Kelly Davis, brought the lawsuit.
Davis accused the state of retaliating against her for raising issues about the allocation of grant money. But the state said Davis resigned after she refused to come to Charleston five days a week. Davis was then the agency's deputy director.
In a deposition, Spears talked about how Fucillo's refusal to work five days a week in Charleston also cost him a chance at a job at the Office of Economic Opportunity.
According to the deposition, former Gov. Joe Manchin asked Spears to consider Fucillo as a candidate to lead the office.
"I talked to him, (Deputy Chief of Staff Harry Bergstrom) talked to him, etcetera," Spears said, "and although he seemed like a very qualified person, he said that he needed to - or wanted to work out of his location in Clarksburg, Bridgeport or something part time of the week and part time in Charleston.
"And I said, 'Rocco, as much as this governor would like to help you because he believes you're a very competent and capable person, I need somebody that's going to be down in Charleston five days a week. That's my policy and I can't bend it for one, then have to bend it for others,'" Spears recalled.
"And so he said, 'I am very interested. If we could work that so that it's not five days a week, I'd be interested,' and I said, 'No, I'm sorry, we can't.'"
That was some time in fall 2010, according to court documents in the Davis case.
DHHR has a vastly larger budget and far more staff than the Office of Economic Opportunity, which was moved out of the Governor's Office after a summer 2011 audit found the agency mismanaged $38 million in federal stimulus money.