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What They’re Saying: DSCC Files Lawsuit Against Jim Justice Over Refusal to Release Work Schedule Amid “Ongoing Scandal”

New reporting details that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sued Jim Justice’s office to demand the release of records pertaining to the Governor’s official schedule or calendar and how “Justice has faced an ongoing scandal over his work schedule.”

The lawsuit comes after Justice’s office repeatedly failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for his official schedule or official calendar and the DSCC sent Jim Justice’s office a litigation hold and notice.

Here’s what they’re saying:

Associated Press: Democrats sue for West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice’s calendar amid Senate run

By Leah Willingham

May 23, 2023

  • The Democratic party’s U.S. Senate campaign arm is asking a Charleston-based judge to order the release of the calendar of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

  • For two terms, [Justice has] been dogged by criticism that he’s rarely at the Statehouse and accused of being a “part-time governor.” His office has been reticent to share his calendar.

  • The suit comes after a 2019 analysis of seven months of Justice’s calendar revealed almost no meetings with his Cabinet and showed he was rarely at the Capitol. His schedule mostly showed him at photo ops or simply unaccounted for.

  • The campaign committee mentioned that reporting in its suit, saying “the Governor may understandably desire to avoid another round of similar criticism” by rejecting its request. “But he is the chief executive of the State and has the duty to ensure that its laws are faithfully executed,” the suit reads. 

WOAY Bluefield

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is suing Governor Jim Justice’s office. The DSCC is demanding the release of records pertaining to the Governor’s official schedule and calendar dating from January 2017 to the present.

  • This comes after Justice’s office reportedly repeatedly failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for his official schedule and calendar. The DSCC has sent Jim Justice’s office a litigation hold and notice. Justice has faced an ongoing scandal over his work schedule.

  • The Associated Press reports Justice was “largely absent in job,” while the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports “work hasn’t always been top of mind for the two-term governor.”

WTRF: Lawsuit filed against Governor Jim Justice over alleged refusal to release work schedule

By John Lynch

May 23, 2023

  • A lawsuit has been filed against West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for refusing to release his work schedule, according to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)
  • “Jim Justice cannot hide his work schedule — or lack thereof — from West Virginians, and this is an area which is sure to receive further scrutiny in his nasty primary and in a court of law,” said DSCC spokesperson David Bergstein.

  • The lawsuit claims that a request for the Governor’s schedule was properly issued under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) but the Governor’s office has refused to produce the most basic records from his time as Governor: lists of the official meetings scheduled for him and his most senior staff.
  • In the lawsuit, it states that Governor Justice last produced such records in 2019 and that Governor Justice “almost never meets with his Cabinet, is rarely at the capital, and was largely missing at one of the most critical points of [the] year’s legislative session.”

WBOY: Justice’s office sued over not releasing official schedules

By Alexandra Weaver

May 23, 2023

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is suing Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) Office over the release of his official schedules and calendars.

  • The DSCC lawsuit comes after it says it filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records requests for Justice’s schedules, but says Justice’s general counsel, J. Berkeley Bentley, told the DSCC none of the schedules were maintained “solely for official business,”
  • The DSCC said in a press release that Justice last produced such records in 2019, and they showed “that Governor Justice ‘almost never meets with his Cabinet, is rarely at the capital and was largely missing at one of the most critical points of [the] year’s legislative session.’” 

WVNews: DSCC sues West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice for access to records

By Charles Young

May 23, 2023

  • The suit, brought by Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, seeks access to the governor’s “official schedule or calendar” going back to beginning of the governor’s first term, according to a release. Last week, the DSCC notified Justice’s office they planned to file suit, sending a litigation hold and notice.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting: Democratic Group Files Lawsuit To Have Justice Release Work Schedule, Calendar

By Randy Yohe

May 23, 2023

  • The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court saying Gov. Jim Justice has failed to comply with a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to release his official schedule and calendar from 2017 to the present. The suit demands the records be released.

  • David Bergstein, the DSCC communications director, said there are key reasons the U.S. Senate candidate cannot hide his work schedule, or lack thereof, from West Virginians.

  • “This has been an ongoing pattern with Justice, where there’s been media reporting about his lack of availability, how hard he’s working, whether he’s actually doing the job,” Bernstein said. “We believe that he needs to disclose these schedules and calendars.”
  • “There is already a very nasty and contentious primary fight happening between Justice and Mooney,” Bergstein said. “This may be an area which becomes a conversation in that primary campaign between those two Republican opponents, but they’re already really going after each other.”

The Washington Post: Democrats sue W.Va. Gov. Justice over refusal to disclose work schedule

By John Wagner

May 23, 2023

  • Democrats on Tuesday sued West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice for refusing to release his work schedule as governor in response to public records request seeking to show a continued pattern of absenteeism.

  • Such requests are a typical part of opposition research conducted by opposing campaigns and political parties.

  • Two years into Justice’s gubernatorial tenure, media stories portrayed him as largely uninterested in his duties after his office did release copies of his schedules.

  • The Associated Press reported that Justice almost never met with his Cabinet, was rarely at the Capitol and was missing for a critical point during a legislative session. Critics said that Justice, a coal mining billionaire, appeared more interested in tending to his private business interests.
  • Before Justice’s entrance into the race, his work ethic was already drawing scrutiny, including in an editorial last month in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

  • “Of course, work hasn’t always been top of mind for the two-term governor, who has remained immersed in his private business interests (often in court over unpaid fees, fines or taxes), continued coaching high school basketball and is only in the capital city a couple of days each week,” the publication wrote.

The Hill: Senate Democrats’ campaign arm sues for records related to Jim Justice’s schedule

By Jared Gans

May 23, 2023

  • The lawsuit from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) filed Tuesday, which was first reported by Punchbowl News, states that Justice has refused to “produce the most basic records” from his time as governor — a list of official meetings for him and his senior staff. 
  • The lawsuit states that a records request in 2019 revealed that Justice “almost never” met with members of his Cabinet, is rarely present at the state capitol and mostly missed one of the “most critical” points of the year’s legislative session.

  • “The Governor may understandably desire to avoid another round of similar criticism, but he is the chief executive of the State and has the duty to ensure that its laws are faithfully executed,” the lawsuit states. “His Office’s refusal to produce the records sought is an open violation of FOIA.” 

See also: DSCC Files Lawsuit Against Jim Justice Over Refusal to Release Work Schedule.

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