Impeachment not political
If there are any facets of politics that are clearly nonpartisan, they are corruption and mismanagement. The sordid, long history of wrongdoing in West Virginia government includes plenty of people from both the Democrat and Republican parties.
So why are some liberals claiming the state Supreme Court cleanup is some sort of Republican plot, led by Gov. Jim Justice?
“Governor Justice and Republican legislators celebrate with corporate donors at the Greenbrier following takeover of Supreme Court,” blasted one Democrat-oriented email sent out this last week.
Is it a plot? Let’s review:
Allen Loughry, the suspended Supreme Court justice viewed by some as a conservative, has been impeached and faces a state Senate trial after being charged with 25 crimes by federal authorities.
Former Justice Menis Ketchum resigned from the court and reportedly plans to plead guilty to a federal charge involving use of a state care and credit card for personal purposes.
Justice Margaret Workman is charged with no crimes. Senators will decide whether to remove her based on articles of impeachment passed by the House of Delegates. Workman is accused of using a contract process to get around a state law limiting how much retired judges can be paid if they are called for temporary assignments. She also is accused of failing to put procedures in place to prevent waste and fraud at the court.
Justice Elizabeth Walker, also viewed by many as a conservative, will face the Senate on only one accusation, also involving failure to put anti-waste and fraud policies in place.
Finally, former Justice Robin Davis resigned after the House passed articles of impeachment against her. Among other things, many delegates are upset that renovations to Davis’ office cost taxpayers $500,000. That included a $20,000 rug.
We suspect anger at spending half a million dollars to remodel one office is shared fairly equally among voters of both parties.
House of Delegates member who voted to impeach Davis, Loughry, Walker and Workman did not invent any of this. Federal prosecutors who charged Loughry and Ketchum investigated their cases thoroughly. This is not a political plot.
As for any attempt to “take over” the court, it is true that Justice will have to appoint interim justices to replace any who resigned or are removed. But in the long run, voters will decide. Two of the empty seats (Davis and Ketchum) will be on the Nov. 6 election ballot.
Insisting action against corruption and mismanagement is politically motivated can be convenient for public officials accused of misbehavior. They should not be able to use the claim — false in this situation — as a shield against justice.