April 17, 2021

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Ousted VA hospital chief of staff selected WVa GOP chairman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A discharged chief of staff from a Veterans Affairs hospital has been elected chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party.

Members of the state’s Republican Executive Committee elected Raleigh County’s Republican Executive Committee chairman Mark Harris in Charleston on Saturday, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reported.

Harris was selected over Conrad Lucas, a former state GOP chairman. Harris replaces Melody Potter, who resigned in January and cites her parents’ health.

Harris was chief of staff at Beckley VA Medical Center from 2017 to 2019. He was released after investigating the charges of sexual assault against a former doctor. Jonathan Yates was sentenced to 25 years in prison in January after pleading guilty to molesting three male patients and violating their civil rights.

“A person who worked for me was guilty of serious misconduct and was removed,” Harris told committee members on Saturday. “I was replaced as Chief of Staff shortly thereafter and am currently retired. However, this choice is not about me. It’s not about you either … it’s about us. It’s about the West Virginia Republican Party. “

Mike Stuart, former GOP chairman and former federal attorney whose office handled the investigation at the VA Hospital, sent harris on Twitter well wishes.

“Congratulations to Mark Harris on his election as #WVGOP chair today,” wrote Stuart. “I will help if necessary to fight for a better future for all West Virgins of every party.”