Incumbent state treasurer Perdue faulted for use of staff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Mike Hall, the Republican nominee for state treasurer, accuses incumbent Treasurer John Perdue of using his employees as campaign staffers and state-purchased trinkets as promotional materials.
Hall suggested Perdue's employees give money to their boss's campaign because they are pressured to donate, and he's heard they work for his campaign while they're on the clock.
Perdue, a Democrat who has held the office since 1998, denies those allegations. Although he acknowledged employees have contributed to his campaign, he said he did not solicit any of those donations.
"It's all recorded and documented. We follow the law," he said. "I don't think it's an issue."
Hall said accepting contributions from employees is legal but a bad practice. He said if elected he would "clean up" the treasurer's office and refuse campaign donations from employees.
"There's no question you follow the law," he told Perdue. "To me, it doesn't look right."
Hall also questioned Perdue on his office's use of so-called "local government specialists."
Perdue said the employees are hired around the state to market the various programs run by the treasurer's department, including the Smart 529 college savings plan, the unclaimed property program and a financial education program aimed at students and senior citizens.
"It's a marketing tool; we're in a marketing business. Those programs sat there under previous treasurers and did nothing. We took it and took it to new heights, marketed those . . . and made it what it is today," he said.
Hall said he's been told local government specialists spend working hours campaigning for Perdue. He produced photos of cars with state government license plates taken in Charleston on the day of a Perdue fundraiser at Appalachian Power Park. Hall suggested those cars belonged to local government specialists employed by the treasurer's office.
"Have these persons . . . have they put up signs, did they go to a meeting? Did they go to fundraisers?" he said. "They're doing what you're saying, but . . . really it promotes John Perdue, too."
But Perdue said the cars did not belong to his employees.
"None of those people attended that fundraiser. You took these pictures of state cars at another meeting," he told Hall.
Perdue took the photos from Hall and promised to check the license plate numbers.
"If there are bad apples out there, bring them to my attention and we'll take appropriate action," he said.
Perdue said employees who volunteer for his campaign do so in their free time. While state civil service employees are forbidden from working on campaigns, even in their free time, Perdue said his workers are "will-and-pleasure" employees and not subject to that rule.
When asked if Hall would employ local government specialists if he were elected, he said he would have to see if those employees were really needed.
Hall also said Perdue is using trinkets handed out by the treasurer's office to promote his campaign. To illustrate his point, the Republican challenger pulled out a purple piggy bank. He said one of his friends got it at the Pumpkin Festival in Milton from state treasurer employees.
The piggy bank was emblazoned with the logo for the state's Smart 529 program, but it also included Perdue's name and his office's phone number.
Hall said the treasurer's office also ordered rubber ducks featuring the Smart 529 logo and Perdue's name.
"It's name recognition," he said.
When asked why his name appeared on the piggy bank, Perdue said, "The name's on the pig so they know where to call."
Perdue said every incumbent office holder enjoys the privileges of name recognition. He pointed out that Hall, a state senator from Putnam County, would have more name recognition than someone challenging him for that seat.
The full editorial board meeting can be viewed here.