The definitive book on political corruption in West Virginia was written by Allen Loughry.  In Don’t Buy Another Vote. I Won’t Pay for a Landslide, Loughry needs 539 pages to chronicle the long and sordid history of shenanigans in the Mountain State.

Loughry, who now serves on the West Virginia Supreme Court, laments the paradox created by the corruption:

“The vast majority of (West Virginia’s) citizens are not corrupt; they are honest people seeking to make better lives for their families,” Loughry writes.  “Nonetheless, these same straightforward and sincere people seem to have become so desensitized to corruption that many of them laugh at the thought of the countless elected officials who have become felons.”

That callousness is the great lament. Humans being what they are, we know that a few in public life will abuse their positions for their own enrichment.  However, it’s the collective shrug of the shoulders and the apathetic, “Well, that’s just the way things are,” that emboldens the miscreants.

For months, rumors have swirled about allegations of political corruption in Mingo County.  It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction, but we do know this:  a federal grand jury has been meeting in Charleston since last year to investigate Mingo County.  In fact, the grand jury was back at it Tuesday and Wednesday.

Federal investigators have been regulars at the Mingo County courthouse.  Multiple subpoenas have been issued and the locals keep a running tab of those who have been called to testify before the grand jury.

The feds won’t comment on any of this.  However, because so many people from Mingo have been called to testify, word gets around. There’s nothing preventing an individual who has testified before a grand jury from publicly talking about what he or she was asked or said.

And so Mingo County, and the state’s politically connected, are all atwitter about what’s to come.  The chatter has reached the stage where it feels like finally, after months of investigation and deliberation, something is about to pop.

The late Senator Robert Byrd wrote in an introduction to Loughry’s book that our democratic system of government is based on public trust.  Once we lose confidence in those chosen to uphold the rule of law, there is little impetus on the rest of us to play by the rules.

Instead, we are reduced to, as Loughry suggested, chortling at the corruption as if it were a damaged, yet inevitable part of our culture.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  We get the kind of government we demand.  It appears the U.S. Attorney’s Office is on the verge of striking a blow against the Mingo County courthouse corruption that can make for a fresh start in Williamson.

That will require another chapter in Loughry’s book, and it won’t be anything to laugh about.

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Comments

  • Michael Baisden

    While the indictments as outlined are shocking we in Williamson were surprised by the charges. Seems as if it boils down to a Love Tryst gone bad and a Jack in the Box Beauracrat bullying his way to get a $10 discount.
    We have heard for months about some really seriious problems with the judicial system and misuse of funds and power involving Flood Money, and under the table deals by some in the courthouse. I just hope that the rest of the story is revealed.
    If it is all revealed as has been rumored the Lincloln County Bunch will look like a few Girl Scouts out selling cookies in comparison.

    P.S. Your article was excellent. I wish the local news outlets would do there job.

  • Bill

    I think this is a good thing! All citizens should want fair elections, but it looks like several of those elected only want to get elected. The HOW does not matter! I think the reason is clear, it’s for the power and the money they can get, whether legal or illegal. I don't believe the southern part of WV is the only area where election stealing happens, but it is the part that gets talked about most often. I believe it happens in very state, which is the big reason for all the fighting over voter ID; it makes it harder to “stuff” the ballot box. It's not about discrimination; it’s about the power brokers not being able to control the outcome of the elections.
    I have one other point to make; I guess the Feds are trying to clean up elections in southern WV because of the rule of law. When will it start happening in Washington DC because of the rule of law? It seems only to be a problem for the Feds in southern WV and nowhere else! From the President on down there seems to be,” I can do anything regardless of the rule of law” attitude! What good is cleaning up WV elections just to let the ones in DC break the rule of law anyway or anytime they want? Sure, it may help with WV elections, but DC seems to mandate how things are run even in the states!
    ALL ELECTIONS SHOULD BE FAIR, with the person elected as well as the public knowing it happened by a fair and honest election.

  • george

    GO DEMOCRATS.........................BOY THEY CAN NOT ONLY RUIN THE COUNTRY BUT THE COUNTY AS WELL........................

    • mntnman

      Yeah, cause they are the only ones contributing to our problems.

    • Richard

      Ruin the country? The democrats have single handedly brought the country back for the edge of collapse the republicans had it on. Do you remember what Obama inherited?
      A financial crisis
      A housing crisis
      A banking crisis
      An auto industry crisis
      2 unpaid for wars
      an unpaid for senior drug benefit
      an economy losing 700,000 jobs a month
      A DOW hovering around 7000

      You people have short memories.

  • Educated Voter

    @ how can you go on and on about liberal democrats being corrupt I can go on and on about some Republicans that were corrupt and benefitted themselves with some things he did, shall i mention names????
    also how about all the problems with your Republican atty general??

  • BigBadJohnHenry

    Maybe voter ID laws will help curb some of this corruption. We'll get called racists to have to show an ID to vote though.
    Is it no wonder that blacks do not want voter ID laws?? It will help to keep the corruption down.

  • BigBadJohnHenry

    The political corruption in Lincoln County was all by liberal democrtas.
    The political corruption in Mingo County is by the liberal democrats.
    The political corruption in Logan County is by the liberal democrats.
    The political corruption in McDowell County is by liberal democrats.
    The political corruption in, you name the county in WV, and it is the liberal democrats behind it.
    I see a trend. Locally and nationally, liberal progressive democrats are at the forefront of corruption. Just look at the massive corruption coming from the Obama administration. More liberal democrat corruption.

    • Richard

      You obviously haven't been to Mingo county. There are very few liberal democrats but there are many DINO's. One of their country commissioners was a GOP county chairman. One of their former delegates was a bank president. Mitt Romney won the county by a 70/30 margin. Liberal democrats? In your dreams.

    • mntnman

      Arch Moore...nuff said.

      • pc

        Um, Governor Marland, Governor Barron, State Senator Tonkovich . . .nuff said.

        • mntnman

          Duh! I was simply pointing out to the above writer that there were corrupt republicans, since he concluded that only liberal democrats were corrupt. Read the entire thread.

          Oh, and Richard Nixon -- I think that one probably trumps them all, along with his buddy Spiro Agnew. Again, simply pointing out there are corrupt republicans.

          • Richard

            Not to mention the mess going on in Virginia now. But if you read Hoppy's comments and most of the posters here, you would think that corruption only happens in Southern WV

    • mntnman

      Yeah, liberal democrats bad -- conservative republicans good. Blindness doesn't excuse ignorance. If you really believe only your side is right, good and smart, then I really don't even know where to begin.

      • WVU 74

        A good starting place for me was Vietnam in 1966. I was blessed with a few leaders that thought themselves right, good and very smart. They were killed.

        For me it was luck. I was lucky. In war, luck will get you home.

        • Shadow

          The old saying: If you have a choice between luck and good, take luck every time.

        • mntnman

          Thanks for your service.

          • WVU 74

            You're welcome, Sir.

        • mntnman

          Glad you were lucky!!

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    Corruption in southern West Virginia, no way. It's all a misunderstanding & LIES in the media.

    By the way while we're at it let's expand all the ways people can vote. It sure will clean up our elections. No Voter ID is needed Secretary Tennant.

    • RANDY

      I FIRST VOTED IN NOVEMBER 1982 AT THE AGE OF 18. GOING INTO THE NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY IN FAIRMONT AND FINDING MY PRECINCT, I PULLED OUT MY DRIVER'S LICENSE TO GIVE IT TO THE PERSON WORKING THE POLLS. I WAS TOLD THAT I DIDN'T NEED TO DO THAT. I WAS NAIVE AND 18, YET I WAS STUNNED TO FIND OUT THAT I DIDN'T HAVE TO SHOW I.D. I WONDERED THEN HOW THEY KNEW IF THE VOTER WAS REALLY WHO THEY SAID THEY WERE. I DIDN'T THINK FOR A SECOND THAT IT WAS TO SUPPRESS THE WILL OF AN ETHNIC, RACIAL, OR POLITICAL GROUP. I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS STUNNING INCOMPETENCE ON THE PART OF THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE RULES ON VOTING.

    • CaptainQ

      Yeah, having Voter ID would infridge on the rights of dead Democrats all over the state to continue to cast their posthumorous 'straight Democrat party' ballots every two years. How DARE they do such a thing to our most Senior of Senior Citizens!

      • mntnman

        I watched at the DMV one day while a 85 year old man tried to get his license renewed. He was confused by the new rules, and was having trouble providing the proper IDs needed to get his new license. I knew the man; born and breed in Mercer County. So he will be denied the right to vote because he is having trouble getting the proof needed to get his ID. Voter ID a really good idea -- not!

        • bulldog95

          Thats what we need, more people that dont have a clue being a part of choosing how the rest of us are forced to live by electing corrupt polticians.

        • Shadow

          Sounds like he was in Alzheimers and needs some one to place the pen for him. Mental and ID test, Yes.

          • Shadow

            I got a license last year and I don't remember the action being very difficult.. All you have to have is an ability to read and understand. That is my problem with the old man and he votes. There are a lot of nice folks out there with Alzheimer's and I regret their condition.

            PS, You are a FH..

          • mntnman

            Hes a nice ole fellow who is very competent. Have you gotten a new license lately? Really difficult to produce all that is needed. My daughter in college really had trouble getting the needed documentation.

            As for your comments about him, as you don't know him, your ignorant comment suggests you are an a$$.

        • NCWV

          I bet the same fellow had all the right identification when he applied for social security and medicare/medicaid when he reached 65.

          • Richard

            I'll bet that 20 years ago, when he turned 65, he didn't need much in the way of identification, certainly not the extensive proof required today.

  • Highlands Roger

    A lot of it still rests on the shoulders of We The People. While there is not much the average citizen can do about what they don't know, such as cemetery residents voting and the count-tampering, a HUGE part of the problem is the vote-buying and back-scratching. If we stand fast and don't SELL our vote, or hold out and vote for the best candidate instead of the one who gave us that reserved parking space or our brother-in-law that county contract, we can take a lot of the teeth out of the corruption monster.

  • Shadow

    I find it laughable that the Feds are investigating corruption in WV when they should start in DC. Do we forget "Fast and Furous", Bengazi, IRS, voter corruption in Cleveland, illegal eligibility certificates in IN, etc. The Feds and DOJ are escapees from the "Gang that couldn't shoot straight." There may be some honest people left in the FBI and DOJ but they sure are quiet and staying out of the light. However,they still get stained with the same color, dishonesty

    • Richard

      Don't know where you've been "Shadow" but there were investigations into Fast and Furious that was nothing more than a publicity circus with Darrell Issa as ringmaster. Same for Benghazi and the IRS.
      With a republican governor, AG and legislature, is it any surprise there are allegations of voter fraud in Ohio. Weren't those same charges made in 2004? What was the result of that investigation?.

      • Shadow

        Have you ever asked yourself why a government employee would take the fifth?

        • Richard

          So is that what you were doing when you ask that question to begin with?

          Fact is, Lerner did nothing wrong and is merely doing her job by trying to ferret out these groups who are asking for tax exempt status.

          Fact is Issa has used his chairmanship for nothing but political theater. He "leaked" the IRS's denial of tax exempt status to those rightwing groups, but didn't mention and actually hid the fact that left leaning groups were denied that status as well.

          I will agree with one thing, the criminal Issa should be the one being investigated.

        • Richard

          Sure. Have you ever asked yourself why the founders chose to include that protection for citizens, yes, even government employees?
          For that matter, have you ever asked yourself why a elected government official, conducting an "investigation", would "leak" information that appears to help in his agenda driven farce while trying to hide and block the release of information that shoots his "case" full of holes?

          • Shadow

            Answering a question with a question is the oldest way out of a sticky question you don't want to answer. I will answer it for you. Lerner is a criminal operating in a government job under the direction of another criminal.

    • Shadow

      After writing this comment I am reminded of the old joke where the Chieftain was laying on the ground with a spear in his chest and was asked "Does it hurt?" His reply was: "Only when I laugh!"

      • pc

        Sort of like the late comedian Henny Youngman's routine where he tells his doctor: "Doc, it hurts when I do that" and the doctor replies: "Then, don't do that".

  • WVU 74

    Aren't you glad you live in West Virginia, and not Detroit? The big, bad corporate giant General Motors is functioning and the once "blue collar" driven economy of a thriving metropolis was plundered. Plundered over 16 years by corrupt Mayors, Council Members.

    This happened under the watchful eye of the US Attorney, and the small army of FBI Agents based in Detroit.

    GM and the other corporations were probably the only responsible tax paying entities the fools
    elected to run Detroit were afraid of.

  • Smooth Criminal

    I really get tired about hearing about political corruption in Southern West Virginia. One would think that this is the only place it happens when in fact the political system is pretty well the same everywhere. Just look at the rest of the state and country. Some things that happens in places like Chicago and new Jersey DC and others make us look like choir leaders.

  • mntnman

    There are two kinds of political corruption -- out and out buying votes, dead people voting, taking bribes, etc. Of course, this is legally wrong and morally wrong and if we can put a stop to it, then have at it and good luck. We need it stopped. It is as old as politics so I doubt we can end it -- but where we find it we need to crush it.

    Then of course there's the legal corruption whereby those with means and connections get what they want by donating money directly to the candidate/office holder, using a PAC to get them elected, giving to their inauguration fund, etc. We have seen this with elected office in WV/the US for YEARS. Somehow, though, that seems to be OK for some -- those who have the connection, I guess. To me, while this may be legal, it is morally wrong. Don't justify it with the ends justify the means -- buying office is buying office. Just because the courts/politicians have decided that its OK for multibillion dollar companies, organizations and individuals to use their money to buy what they want in politics does not make it right or good for our republic. Self interest results in losers -- unfortunately, we the people are usually the losers.

    So I wonder sometimes if we spent more time attacking the legal corruption if just perhaps our might society might be all the better. Of course, since corporations are now people, it won't be long before they have the right to vote. To me, the legal corruption is the worse of the two -- because it exists at a much greater level and it is currently governing our country, not just a few counties in our state.

    • Wowbagger

      Agreed,

      As long as unions and wealthy individuals are afforded the exact same status as corporations. Citizen's United leveled the playing field, but I'm not convinced that we have the right balance yet.

      Perhaps the Koch Brothers, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Oracle, Google, the UAW, the UMWA, the various public employees unions, you, and I should be allowed the same level of contributions based on, say our (meaning middle classed citizens) ability to contribute.

      • mntnman

        Citizens United unleveled the playing field. Now, corporations, through their directors can spend mucho dinero (practicing my Spanish)getting their person elected. Regardless of whether shareholders actually want that. Corporations are NOT people and should not be afforded the same rights as people. And just so you know, I hold that same view of any association, union, group of people. We the people should be the source for election contributions, limited in amount. That way, no one person/organization can give so much as to gain access -- it corrupts public service and politics. Only individuals should be permitted to contribute, and no more than $2000 per person, per election. That's how I feel.

        • BigBadJohnHenry

          Citizens United was in response to the liberals Media Matters. Just the names tell you who the liberals fovor.

        • Wowbagger

          If corporations are not people then unions are not people either! Members pay dues, but have no say in the union's political contributions.

        • mntrbob

          mman, I will agree with your points and the points above. I think part of the problem at least with me is that the system is so complicated, much like the tax codes that some dummy like me has a hard time understanding what to be outraged about or even if I should be outraged. Common sense like a set amount probably makes too much sense. I will throw this out as corporations are regulated and taxed more than individuals, should they be able to contribute as much as an individual. The taxation and regulation does effect, the employees and investors? just a thought. I lean to allowing contributions, but only as much as individuals.

    • GregG

      I couldn't agree more mntnman!! And some wonder why I continually beat the dead horse about how big business and the elite control our government. In my world political positions being bought by big business is just as bad as "graveyard voting".

      • BigBadJohnHenry

        What about political positions being bought and paid for by the labor unions???

        • GregG

          Although I'm a strong Union supporter, I DO NOT agree with any organization using their money or their power to influence our government or our elections. I am also against any form of lobbying.

        • mntnman

          Those too! Doesn't matter who paid for the politician -- it is corrupt!!

    • Wirerowe

      Great post mntnman. I think they are equally bad.

  • Hillboy

    Wait, it almost sounds like Hoppy is OK with the federal government meddling in local affairs. They're violating our state's rights for cry sakes.

    • Shepherdstown

      Not sure if you made a serious post or a tongue in cheek.

      However, as Shelby Foote, the noted novelist and Civil War historian put it in Ken Burns PBS Civil War documentary " Before the war it was 'the United States are' and after the war it was 'theUnited States is'. We went from an are to an is".

      • Hillboy

        I was joking. It's just that Hoppy frequently get lathered up about federal EPA oversight of mountaintop mining in WV. I'm all for getting rid of corrupt politicians---doesn't matter which party. Get them out.

    • wirerowe

      I think that is an appropriate involvement of the federal government in local and state affairs. because of the potential conflict of interest between state and local officials especially come election time. I think there are many examples of federal overreach and inappropriate involvement. The positioning of federal prosecutors throughout the states is not one of those. Though the power of the federal prosecutors also provides the opportunity for abuse of power.

      • Hillboy

        It would be hard for anyone to say federal involvement in this case was not appropriate. But there is a lot of room for disagreement about what is or isn't inappropriate in other cases.

  • wirerowe

    Excellent observations from Shinston guy and Wowbagger.

  • CaptainQ

    Say it isn't so, Hoppy! The Fed found MORE political corruption in a Southern WV County? How can this be? (heavy sarcasm here, folks)

    You have to wonder what the Federal Government found THIS time! Did they uncover more of the legendary 'graveyard' voting going on? More 'doller and a swaller' type vote buying? Mishandling/embezzlement of funds in some Mingo County government entity? Or did the Fed discover an even more elaborate 'absentee voter' system styled on the one that was successfully used (until they got caught) in Lincoln County?

    I'm looking forward to hearing the Fed's big announcement on this one. In the words of NFL star Bart Scott: "Can't wait!"

    • pc

      Yes it was the Feds who ferreted out the Lincoln County mess. Remember, our buckskin wearin Sec. of State could find no evidence of any voting problems there and elsewhere in southern WV, and she is our chief elections officer!!!