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ICYMI: Statehouse Beat: 2024 candidates wasting no time in distorting reality [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

On the heels of recent reporting detailing Justice’s “long history” of failing to meet his “financial and work safety obligations” and the ongoing scandal over Justice’s work schedule, new reporting from the Charleston Gazette-Mail highlights the mounting controversies surrounding Justice’s “refus[al] to release his official schedule and calendar” and “multitude of unpaid fines, penalties and arbitration orders.” 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Charleston Gazette-Mail: Statehouse Beat: 2024 candidates wasting no time in distorting reality
By Phil Kabler
May 20, 2023

Key points:

  • Our always open and transparent governor is in a fight with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, refusing to release his official schedule and calendar, denying two Freedom of Information Act requests to do so.
  • If this tune sounds familiar, it’s because Justice did the same thing in 2018 when the Gazette-Mail made a similar FOIA request. That was around the time former delegate Isaac Sponaugle first filed suit against Justice for failing to comply with the constitutional requirement that the governor reside in Charleston.
  • A few months later, the Justice administration did agree to provide the Associated Press with seven months of Justice’s schedules, from November 2018 through May 2019.
  • The subsequent article showed the schedules revealed what those of us who covered Justice long suspected: “His schedule for the past seven months — recently released to the Associated Press in response to a request filed under West Virginia’s open records law — shows he almost never meets with his Cabinet, is rarely at the Capitol, and was largely missing at one of the most critical points of this year’s legislative session. The schedules mostly show him at photo ops or simply unaccounted for.”
  • Justice clearly doesn’t want the DSCC getting its hands on his schedule and calendar, since that would give them fodder for attack ads portraying Justice as treating the governorship as a part-time job, while being preoccupied with running his struggling business empire and coaching high school basketball.
  • In denying the FOIA, Justice general counsel Berkeley Bentley said the schedules contain both official and personal business — which for any other governor would be a shocking admission. However, we’ve known full well that Justice, unlike his predecessors, has failed to put the vast majority of his businesses into blind trusts, and continues to oversee his business interests.
  • Regardless of the outcome of that lawsuit, Justice is in for a yearlong slog, with attacks coming from at least three sides: the Mooney campaign; the Club For Growth, which has committed at least $10 million on Mooney’s behalf; and the DSCC.
  • Finally, speaking of Justice’s business enterprises, it’s hard to pick up the paper these days without seeing news of the latest legal wrangling regarding the Justice family’s unpaid loan debts.
  • That includes an article last week by the Gazette-Mail’s Roger Adkins regarding the family’s efforts to block Carter Bank & Trust from filing a confession of judgment, which would require the Justices to pay up $300 million in unpaid loan debt.
  • Also widely reported are ongoing negotiations with Credit Suisse regarding an outstanding $850 million loan personally guaranteed by Justice, and Citizens Bank of West Virginia going to court to garnish Justice’s gubernatorial wages over an unpaid $861,035 loan.
  • That’s on top of a multitude of unpaid fines, penalties and arbitration orders, as summarized in an excellent article by Mike Tony in the April 29 Gazette-Mail.

See also: Justice’s Finances Face Scrutiny as West Virginia Republicans’ “Battle Royale” Senate Primary Escalates; ICYMI: West Virginia Republicans’ “Battle Royale” Senate Primary Escalates & Justice Faces Scrutiny Over Debt; DSCC Sends Jim Justice Litigation Hold Over Refusal to Release Work Schedule; What They’re Saying: DSCC “Seize[s] On Reports Jim Justice ‘Largely Absent,’” Will File Lawsuit To Obtain Official Schedule And Calendar.

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Justice’s Finances Face Scrutiny as West Virginia Republicans’ “Battle Royale” Senate Primary Escalates

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