CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state tax commissioner let the Kanawha County Commission know Wednesday that he’s not going to get involved in the controversy involving elected Prosecutor Mark Plants.
The commission is talking about having Plants removed from office because of the mounting special prosecutor bills because Plants is still charged with two domestic related misdemeanor crimes and cannot prosecutor similar cases.
Language in state code allows the state tax commissioner to start removal proceedings against some court officers over financial issues. The commission began researching the option, but Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy said Wednesday that won’t be an option.
“The tax commissioner has declined to be involved in the situation and referred us back to the West Virginia removal statute,” Hardy said. “The removal statute puts a very high standard on removing an elected official from office.”
Hardy has been calling for Plants to resign for several weeks. He said it would solve the financial problems the special prosecutor bills are causing, which has been about $30,000 a month. But Plants has said he has no plans to resign. He recently signed up in a community corrections program that could lead to the charges against him being dismissed.
The county commission plans to discuss its next step at its Thursday evening meeting. Hardy said the county’s research shows only one elected prosecutor has been removed from office by a special three judge panel. He said it happened in 1999 in Logan County.
“There is a very, very high presumption that once a person is elected to an office they should be allowed to finish out the term. In other words, the public is the ultimate decider of who is in an office.”
Hardy said despite the difficulty he still wants to look at the removal process.
“I’m willing to vote to institute a petition for removal if our county attorney tells me he thinks we can have a good chance of prevailing,” he said.