We’re making progress in Mingo County.

Yesterday, Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to deprive an individual of his constitutional rights in order to protect one of his cronies.

Thornsbury, who had been suspended since the feds indicted him on separate charges in August, also resigned yesterday.  He will continue to cooperate with federal investigators as he awaits his sentencing in January.

He faces a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. He won’t do that much time, but it’s still a precipitous fall for the corrupt former judge who is about to find out what the world looks like from the other side of the bars.

Additionally, Thornsbury will turn in his law license and wait at least five years to apply for reinstatement.

The state Supreme Court, which oversees the judiciary, moved promptly to discipline Thornsbury. He has been on suspension without pay since the original indictment.

However, Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden is a different matter.

Baisden pleaded guilty this week to extortion for his ham-handed attempt to shake down a Mingo County business for discount tires for his personal vehicle.  However, Baisden was also implicated in the Thornsbury conspiracy to interfere with a federal investigation.

Baisden’s plea agreement says he must step down before his sentencing, but that’s not until January 14.  Baisden’s Commission salary is $35,640.  That means if he hangs on until his sentencing, the taxpayers will pay him another $10,300.

I’m told that Baisden has not been at any Mingo County Commission meetings since he was charged, and he failed to show up at yesterday’s meeting when a citizen pushed for the remaining two commissioners to take action.  Benjamin Cisco says he’s outraged that a convicted felon is still on the county payroll.

State law provides for Baisden to be booted out of office.  West Virginia Code 6-5-5 says any elected official, who has been convicted of a felony, shall vacate that office (emphasis added).

But who is going to make that happen?  The two remaining Mingo County Commissioners, John Hubbard and Hootie Smith, gave no indication yesterday they are going to follow through, so it appears Baisden can hang on until January.

As Cisco asked rhetorically, “Are we really going to pay the salary of an admitted convicted felon?”

It would appear so, unless Hubbard and Smith realize that their own credibility is damaged as long as Baisden stays on the Commission.  If they won’t act out of public interest, then maybe self-interest will provide the necessary motivation.



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  • Non union dude

    Do we reminder Joe C Ferrell lol

  • WC

    If this investigation dosen't get our 2 remaining commissioner's the voters should get rid of them the next time their position comes available for not acting on removing Baisden. On the other hand they probably will move on up the ladder to judge or prosecuting attorney, before the next election as an appointment from someone.

  • Bean

    What? Nothing from Hopship or TD? Or Greg G? You guys keeping your powder dry?

    • CaptainQ

      Well Bean, to be honest, this subject isn't all that interesting anymore.

      Corruption in Mingo County?


      Nothing new here.

  • ConservativeRealist

    I wonder if Thornsbury will lose his State pension as allowed for under the Code?

    • bulldog95

      He will get his pension and then get re-elected in 5 years and double dip.

  • mntnman

    It would be up to the prosecuting attorney for the county to "boot" him out...oh wait...hasn't he been accused of being involved...guess he won't do anything...

  • JohnnyG

    Thornsbury sounds like a perfect candidate for Obama's cabinet.

  • wvman75

    Democrats being democrats.

    • Grant

      Politicians being politicians. If you think democrats are the only corrupt ones, then you are crazy.

  • Toolman

    So he loses his law license for five years. What the heck! He should never be allowed to practice law anywhere in the US. Oh wait, he could run for political office, or ERT may need another cronie cabinet secretary.

  • David McKain

    Any citizen can obtain signatures (50 I believe in this case) a submit a verified petition for the recall of a county commissioner. The petition will be reviewed by a panel of three judges and, if they find that the commissioner is incompetent or malfeasant (read the code for the details) that commissioner will be removed from office. There is liability for the person verifying the petition but it appears, in this case, that there is little risk involved. It's actually W.Va. 6-6-7 for a county commissioner (6-6-5 is for state elective officials) and the exact grounds are "official misconduct, malfeasance in office, incompetence, neglect of duty or gross immorality". For reference I suggest a simple google search for "logan county wv prosecutor 6-6-7" where the W.Va. Supreme Court removed a prosecuting attorney from office.