CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A new ethics complaint alleges State Auditor Glen Gainer inappropriately used public employees to help him respond to an earlier complaint against him.
The auditor's office denies the allegation, claiming it's the latest in a string of moves made for political gain.
Rob Cornelius, a Republican political consultant, filed the complaint Monday with the state Ethics Commission. He also filed the first complaint against Gainer -- a Democrat -- concerning appearances in promotional videos for Visa.
Cornelius alleges Gainer used state employees to help conduct research and represent him regarding the first complaint.
"I would assert that potentially hundreds of hours of (the auditor's office) counsel and employee time were wasted on defense of Gainer in this personal matter," the complaint states.
Cornelius argues Gainer should have instead hired an outside attorney. He points to a different ruling the commission made in 2008.
That case involved allegations against then-Dunbar Mayor Roger Wolfe. In the ruling, the Ethics Commission determined City Attorney Herbert Hively couldn't represent Wolfe.
"While the city is not an adverse party in the ethics proceeding, if the Ethics Commission prevails, (Wolfe) will have to repay the city for alleged unauthorized reimbursements," a report from a hearing in the case said. "In such circumstances, Hively cannot ethically represent (Wolfe)."
Earlier this year, Cornelius questioned Gainer's appearance in online videos for Visa in which he talks about the success of the state Purchasing Card, or P-card, system. Gainer touts the system and Visa as an "excellent business partner," according to a conciliation agreement Gainer later reached with the Ethics Commission.
The video also shows images of campaign buttons used by Gainer's father, who served as state auditor before his son.
State code prohibits elected officials from using their office to receive personal gain or gain for anyone else. Intent is not required for a public official to break the law.
Gainer asked Visa to remove the video following reports about the situation in the Charleston Gazette.
Gainer did not admit to any wrongdoing, but said in the agreement it was best for everyone to resolve the issue.
Gainer agreed to give $1,000 to the Charleston Area Medical Center for the Children's Advocacy Center. He also cannot appear in any videos for companies that could contract with the state, must make sure Visa stops using the video and provide the commission with a copy of the video, according to the terms of the agreement.
In the conciliation agreement, the ethics commission states an attorney for Gainer contacted the commission about reaching an agreement. It does not identify the attorney.