CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden has resigned. Under pressure, Baisden submitted his resignation to the two other members of the Mingo County Commission on Monday. In part, it said the following:
“I’ve always had it in my heart to serve the people of this county in a manner they could be proud of,” wrote Baisden. “It was never my intention to do anything to put Mingo County in a negative light. I love this county and I love the people. I continue to want to do what is best for them.”
State Auditor Glen Gainer had called for Baisden’s immediate resignation. He sent a letter, making the case for that resignation by citing state law, to the two other Mingo County commissioners along with Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks.
Last week, Baisden plead guilty to a federal extortion charge for ending Mingo County’s business with Appalachian Tire when the company refused to give him the county price for tires for his personal vehicle. At that time, Baisden indicated he intended to stay in his elected office, and collect the paycheck that comes with it, until shortly before his sentencing in January.
Despite calls to do so from members of the public, Mingo County Commissioner John Hubbard and Mingo County Commissioner Hootie Smith had refused to call for Baisden’s immediate resignation.
Gainer said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” he did not want to get involved in the Baisden case, but had to do so.
“As chief inspector of public offices, I have the responsibility to provide oversight and guidance to county and municipal governments in the state of West Virginia,” said Gainer. “I believe that I needed to remind public officials down there what the statute says.”
In his letter, Gainer said “He (Baisden) has…engaged in official misconduct as defined in W.Va. Code 6-6-1 and is subject to removal provisions of that article.” Gainer gave the county officials until Oct. 15 to notify him whether Baisden had voluntarily resigned or if removal proceedings had begun.
“To me, once you have plead guilty, in layman’s terms, a layman reading the law, you’ve admitted your guilt and have violated your oath of office,” said Gainer.
Other lawyers argued Baisden left his office when he entered his plea. Article 9, Section 4 of the state Constitution says for county officials “upon conviction….their office shall become vacant.” State Code 6-5-5 says, when a public official is convicted, “their office shall become vacant.”
Baisden is scheduled to be sentenced for extortion in U.S. District Court on Jan. 14.