June 9, 2014
By Ron Gregory
Are there, in fact, more charges to come in the Mountain Laurel mining complex kickback deals? Many insist some leading politicians will be among those eventually charged. Those same folks have predicted all in the Mingo County Courthouse were going to jail for months now. Time will tell, but I would be surprised if any big-name politician is named in either place.
The Charleston Daily Mail thinks officials who took donations from Mountain Laurel-connected folks are guilty of something, apparently. In an editorial, the Mail more or less said that. I wonder if Charleston Newspapers screens the criminal backgrounds of those who submit ads for publication? Probably not. And neither should a politician have to answer for every donation he or she accepted. If the Daily Mail wants the money returned to the donors, I suggest they write the checks.
… Interestingly, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin specifically identified some elected members of Team Mingo in his recommendation for sentencing of disgraced former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury. Goodwin said, in addition to Thornsbury, others in Thornsbury’s “political faction” included Prosecutor Michael Sparks, Sheriff Eugene Crum and Circuit Clerk Grant Preece. Goodwin has routinely called that faction “corrupt.”
Remember, readers, that it is not me calling these folks corrupt. It is the Democrat U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.
… Mark Colegrove, who was elected to the Mingo County Board of Education in May, apparently has a case pending against that same board. Some in Williamson are wondering if Colegrove should be seated on a board with which he has a lawsuit pending. Colegrove and his wife sued in 2012 on behalf of their child, who was allegedly injured on a school playground.
… The secretary of state’s office, under current officeholder Natalie Tennant, has routinely said over the years that they investigate allegations of election misconduct only if someone files a formal complaint. That position has apparently changed, though. When Hootie Smith filed a last-minute complaint against his Democrat primary challenger Lonnie Hannah, Smith failed to have it notarized. Hannah’s representatives, while denying the claims made by Smith, also insisted the complaint should be summarily dismissed because it was not a “sworn statement.”
Tennant has refused to dismiss it, though, and is apparently conducting an “investigation.” Under the new policy, I urge anyone in the state who has an election concern to anonymously call it in to Tennant. Apparently, an investigation will ensue.
… My late father used to have a favorite expression. “He (she) would’t be happy if they hung him (her) with a new rope,” Dad said.
Carl Gregory’s axiom, while not original with him, would clearly apply to modern-day Washington politics. It is safe to say Republicans and right-wingers wouldn’t be happy if Democrat President Barack Obama paved all the streets with gold.
The most recent example is the American rescue of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Afghan/Taliban hands in exchange for five Taliban officials held by the United States. Whereas, as recently as a few months ago, Republicans were upset that Obama had not been able to gain the release of Bergdahl, they all became hysterical when the deal was announced. It is the absolute height of hypocrisy to read earlier comments by GOP leaders and compare them to the days since Bergdahl was released.
Either right-wing tea partiers support the military or they don’t. After all, President Obama is the commander-in-chief of their beloved armed forces. He did not leave a soldier on the battlefield. He absolutely did the right thing.
… Word from Logan County is that Larry Rogers has gathered enough signatures to challenge incumbent Democrat Delegate Rupie Phillips and former Delegate Ralph Rodigherio in the November election. Rogers will apparently run as an independent after placing fourth in the 2012 Democrat primary.
… Speculation is that political decisions were becoming too mixed with ethics opinions, leading to the termination last week of Ethics Commission Director Joan Parker. Many think Parker had often sided with Democrats when ethical questions arose. They say she was continuing to do so by recommending that the ethics commission sanction the recent mailing of “constituent reports” by Democrat delegates during the primary election campaign.
Republicans have dubbed the mailings “Mail Gate” and Parker apparently wanted to give the Democrats a clean bill of health on the issue. Her termination came as a surprise to some, however.
… Your comments, story ideas, rumors and ethics suggestions are always welcome. That does not mean, for those who have vocabulary problems, that “everything in his column is just rumors. He says so.” Use my email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.