CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Gov. Justice said on Monday he would not comment on personnel matters related to Jeremiah Samples’ departure from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch echoed Gov. Justice’s statement, stating the agency is transparent, but that it will not get into specific details surrounding Samples. Samples was a former deputy secretary undersecretary Crouch since 2017.
Samples released a statement thanking the Governor and Legislature, but he also said the DHHR has not fulfilled responsibilities in critical areas. According to Samples, the DHHR has not progressed in addressing child welfare, substance abuse, protecting the vulnerable and other issues — despite an almost $7.5 billion budget.
Samples stated while the problems are complex, solutions must be found. He also said our society must do better and never forget each statistic is about an actual person.
“For every child protected from harm and family supported, I am far more cognizant, even haunted, by those that have not been saved or that will go unsaved tomorrow,” Samples said. “I cannot properly articulate the level of responsibility I personally feel for those suffering and struggling that I have not been able to help.”
Samples said he disagrees with Secretay Crouch on “what the problems are, how to handle them, or the urgency of achieving results.”
Amanda Barren, WOWK 13 News Anchor, asked Gov. Justice and Secretary Crouch for more information surrounding Samples’ departure.
Gov. Justice said he is unaware of specific details on the issue and would not discuss DHHR personnel matters. However, Gov. Justice thanked Samples for his work and acknowledged the DHHR has faced challenges for decades.
“I will fix it, and I will absolutely bring in experts to do a review from top to bottom,” Gov. Justice said. “And then once we find the deficiencies in what we should do, we’ll fix it.”
Gov. Justice did not reveal whether Samples resigned or was fired, but the Governor stated Samples was an at-will employee. The governor added he expects his secretaries “to do their job” and act in the best interest of state agencies and citizens.
Secretary Crouch said he is in “complete agreeance” with Gov. Justice.
“We all have to pull the rope in the same direction,” Crouch said. “This is a large agency, and we have to have everybody on board in terms of what we’re doing. And we’ve got to meet the goals out there of putting people who are in need — our vulnerable population — making sure those safety nets are there for them.”
Gov. Justice, Secretary Crouch and Samples all held positive outlooks on moving forward from the departure.
Samples stated he remains hopeful, and his departure from the DHHR is a chance to rededicate himself to serving West Virginia and its citizens.
“Despite our challenges, I feel positive about the future and the many new ways that I can help our State,” Samples said. “I look forward to continuing this work with dedicated partners moving forward. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.”