Allegations of lavish spending and corruption allegations leads West Virginia lawmakers to vote to impeach entire state Supreme Court
The legislators voted 14 articles of impeachment against the entire court
Justices allegedly spent up to $3.7 million of tax payer money on office decor
Articles of impeachment recommend the four justices be impeached ‘for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes and misdemeanors.’
One item cited is a $32,000 custom-made wood floor containing each county in the state cut from a different colored piece of wood and blue granite from Justice Allen Loughrey’s home county of Tucker
That granite portion of the floor alone cost taxpayers $7,500
Justice Robin Davis allegedly purchased a $20,500 rug and spent $8,000 on a high-backed desk chair that she said helped with her arthritis
Justice Elizabeth Walker is accused of having spent $131,000 on office renovations, including $27,000 on furnishings and wallpaper.
Additionally all four justices are charged with failing to develop and maintain official policies regarding the use of state resources, including cars, computers and credit cards.
Loughry faces additional charges related to his alleged use of state vehicles for personal travel, keeping having state property in his home, as well as having personal items such as photos, documents, and artwork framed at taxpayer expense
Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Robin Davis also are charged on the excessive pay to retired judges issue
Loughry who was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on 23 charges of fraud, witness tampering and lying to feds, was suspended without pay in June, his trial is scheduled to begin Oct
A member of the five man bench, Justice Menis Ketchum, abruptly ‘retired’ in July, just as the impeachment proceedings began – he was not a subject of impeachment because he’d resigned
The state House begins deliberations on impeachment Monday, which if successful then moves to the Senate for trial
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 2017. Standing [L-R] Justices Menis Ketchum, and Elizabeth Walker. Sitting [L-R], Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Allen Loughry and Robin Davis. – Justice Ketchum resigned July
State legislators in West Virginia voted to bring impeach charges against the entire state Supreme Court after accusing the justices of multiple crimes, including lavish spending on office decorations that cost tax payers $3.7 million.
The articles of impeachment recommend the four justices be impeached ‘for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes and misdemeanors.’
‘It’s a sad day, and it certainly isn’t a cause for celebration,’ said Republican lawmaker John Shott, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee handling the issue, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Justice Robin Davis it is alleged, spent $8,000 on a high-backed desk chair that she said helped her arthritis and purchased a $20,500 rug.
Justice Elizabeth Walker is alleged to have spent $131,000 on office renovations, including $27,000 on furnishings and wallpaper.
Lawmakers additionally charged all four justices are with failing to develop and maintain official policies regarding the use of state resources, including cars, computers and credit cards.
Justice Allen Loughry faces further charges related to his alleged use of state vehicles for personal travel and keeping state property in his home.
He is also accused of having personal photos, documents, and artwork framed at the cost to taxpayers expense and issuing an order authorizing payments to retired judges in excess of what is allowable under state law.
Loughry allegedly moved a valuable and historic ‘Cass Gilbert’ desk from the Capitol building to his home office. – Gilbert was the architect of the Capitol building.
Rep John Shott, Chairman of the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee, during the impeachment hearing on Aug 7
Loughry was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on 23 charges of fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators. He was suspended from the court without pay in June and his trial is scheduled to begin in October.
According to state law, if a justice leaves or is removed from office 84 days prior to a general election, the governor appoints an interim justice and voters pick a new justice during the November contest.
August 14 is the 84 day mark.
If a justice leaves or is removed after August 14, the governor still appoints an interim justice but the special election moves to May 2020.
But some state Democrats are charging Republican lawmakers with a ‘coup,’ delaying impeachment proceedings to the point they would go past the August 14 deadline and letting the Republican governor fill the bench with his picks.
Democratic Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer told NPR she sees the timing of the impeachment as a ploy to allow Gov. Jim Justice to appoint the majority of the justices on court.
‘It’s a coup,’ she said. ‘They dragged this out all summer long, and suddenly they put this on the agenda.’
Republican lawmakers deny the charge.
‘In an election year, there’s going to be people who will spin it however it creates the most advantage to them. That’s just part of the process,’ Shott told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.