May 28, 2024

WVVOAD misused funds case moves to investigations committee

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The executive director of West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) appeared Sunday in front of the West Virginia Legislative Committee on Flooding to discuss allegations surrounding potential misuse of funds.

After questioning executive director Jennifer Gannaway, the committee voted without objections to pass the case along to the State Auditor’s Office, the Committee on Investigations and the Legislative Auditor’s Office.

Prior to this decision, Gannaway was questioned by the committee on her own conduct at West Virginia VOAD.

“I asked her very specifically about those things, and I just didn’t have confidence that she was answering me sincerely and truthfully and wholeheartedly. Because there was a lot of things she just responded, she didn’t recall or she didn’t remember,” Senator Eric Tarr said. “She was very calculated with her answers to my questions instead of just conversational like you would normally expect.”

Sen. Tarr said that the Legislative Committee on Flooding has already given West Virginia VOAD around $1.1 million between July and December 2023 for this fiscal year’s flood recovery efforts. However, when the committee learned about allegations of the possible misuse of state dollars and donations, alarms went off.

Sen. Tarr said, “I’m really concerned that those dollars aren’t being used the way they’re intended to be used by this legislature.”

Now that this case is being passed to investigators, Sen. Tarr said there is a long road ahead to either confirm or deny these allegations.

“VOAD by and large has done incredible work in West Virginia. The volunteers, the people associated with it, it’s an incredible effort,” Sen. Tarr said. “That doesn’t excuse what may be, we don’t know yet, but it sure does not look good. It does not excuse any behavior that would redirect any of those resources to anybody but those flood victims.”

One of VOAD’s main roles is coordinating disaster relief funds and collecting federal and state dollars, along with donations, to help victims in need.

“The investigations committee is a closed-door session committee meeting, and they have private investigators. They look into any potential things that have criminal actions around anything that would touch state government,” Sen. Tarr said.

Gannaway said the committee’s conclusions were unfortunate.

“The allegations that were made was over a year and a half ago. There was an independent council that looked into those allegations, and I was cleared of any allegation,” Gannaway said, adding that she was not a part of that independent council.

“I am very confident that in looking at the finances, anything that has come to WV VOAD from the state or any other entity, we will show that they have been spent properly and correctly,” Gannaway said.

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