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Lynch nominates labor commissioner Copadis as interim head of embattled employment security agency

State House Bureau

July 12. 2012 3:00PM

CONCORD - - Gov. John Lynch moved quickly to fill a void at the top of the embattled Department of Employment Security this evening by nominating veteran New Hampshire Commissioner of Labor George Copadis as the interim commissioner of the embattled agency.

Lynch said if confirmed to the post by the Executive Council at an emergency meeting scheduled for Monday morning, Copadis would take a leave of absence from the Department of Labor and the responsibilities of labor commissioner would, by law, be assumed by Deputy Labor Commissioner David Wihby.

Lynch announced the plan to move Copadis to DES shortly after announcing that Deputy Commissioner of Employment Security Darrell Gates had been suspended with pay while state officials continue to investigate allegations of nepotism, conflict-of-interest and misuse of agency funds.

The scandal, which became public on Wednesday, resulted in the resignation of DES commissioner Tara Reardon.

In announcing the Gates suspension, Lynch said, 'The council and I believe these allegations of misconduct are serious and that suspension is the appropriate action to take pending further investigation.'

Gates and Reardon were accused in a whistleblower complaint of directing the department to hire their daughters and then laying them off so they could collect unemployment benefits.

Reardon resigned Wednesday after several months of closed door meetings with the Governor and Executive Council. Her resignation is effective Aug. 31 and she was placed on paid administrative leave until that date.

Copadis, of Manchester, has served as labor commissioner since 2004. He previously was the president of the Workforce Opportunity Council.

'George is a strong manager of people, possesses a thorough knowledge of workforce and employment issues and is widely respected in state government,' Lynch said in a statement. 'He has the experience, knowledge and temperament to provide strong leadership for the Department of Employment Security at this time.'

Copadis, a UNH graduate, "is deeply involved in his community, having served on various boards, which includes 27 consecutive years as a commissioner of the Manchester Housing & Redevelopment Authority," the governor's office said.

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