The federal charges issued against Republican state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry today -- and the continued failure of the Republican leadership to take action to remove him from office -- points to an ongoing culture of corruption among those in control of the Legislature, West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said.
“Just like Justice Loughry, these Republican leaders don’t think the rules apply to them, and every day we are learning of another corruption scandal as a result,” Sword said. “In just the past few months, we’ve seen a Republican delegate be forced to resign to avoid jail time and the mishandling of $150 million meant to go to flood victims.
“Hard-working West Virginia taxpayers deserve better.”
When fellow union member and Kanawha County delegate Mike Pushkin called for the Legislature to initiate Loughry’s impeachment during the legislative session, Senate President Mitch Carmichael told reporters it “may be the single dumbest most ridiculous political stunt that I’ve seen in my time at the Legislature.” He stated calling for Loughry’s resignation and impeachment had the feel of “a political vendetta.”
“Mitch Carmichael and the Republican leadership have spent the past four legislative sessions pursuing a political vendetta against working West Virginians,” Sword said. “They have pushed legislation to lower wages and benefits, make workplaces less safe and give tax cuts to wealthy corporations. They called rallying educators ‘union bosses’ while ignoring their pleas for a meaningful pay raise and a permanent fix for skyrocketing PEIA insurance costs.
“As with the teacher pay raise, which the leadership reluctantly passed under intense pressure, it was only after the entire Democratic caucus of the Legislature once again publicly demanded action be taken regarding Loughry that the Republican leadership acknowledged the extent of his corruption and called for his resignation. Yet they continue to protect Loughry by not initiating an impeachment process.”
While Loughry’s behavior, having written a book on corruption in West Virginia government and now facing a 22-count indictment, is extremely offensive, Sword noted that the misuse of state and federal funds that were meant to aid West Virginia flood victims is simply appalling.
“I don’t understand how Senator Ed Gaunch and Delegate Roger Hanshaw, chairs of the Joint Committee on Flooding, could have allowed this to happen,” Sword said. “These flood victims live in their districts, and two years have passed, yet they only started raising concerns in the face of recent intense media scrutiny.
“It’s time for the Republican legislative leaders to own up to this troubling trend and take steps to ensure transparency and accountability, rather than spending their time helping political friends and hurting West Virginia families.”