CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following reports of new liens against coal companies owned by his family, Gov. Jim Justice says the debts will be paid.
Justice, appearing today on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” alluded to disputes that need to be resolved, although the governor did not describe the nature of the disputes.
The liens, which were filed over the course of the spring by the state Tax Department in Kanawha County, have Justice’s own name at the top in his role as governor.
They were filed against Tams Management, a Justice-family company based in Raleigh County, for tax debt.
Justice, speaking on statewide radio today, acknowledged the debts, but elaborated on few details about why they have gone unpaid. In part, he said, he can’t provide more detailed explanations.
“I could go on and on and on and tell you, and there’s a great many details on stuff that’s twofold: One, that I can’t tell you. And two that I just don’t know,” Justice said.
“I’m not involved on day-to-day operations on our companies nearly like I was before. But I can tell you this. For us to be focused in any way on an obligation that Jim Justice has to the government, I’d love for you to say ‘What has he never paid?'”
“I’ve said it a thousand times over. Every obligation will absolutely be fulfilled.”
Four liens totaling $971,927 were filed with the Kanawha County Clerk reflecting debt owed by Tams Management Inc. The liens, filed over several months this spring, were first reported earlier this month by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Tams Management Inc. is listed with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office as a surface and underground coal mining company based in Daniels, Raleigh County.
James C. Justice III, son of the governor, is listed as president and director. Jill Justice, daughter of the governor, is also listed as director.
The governor today made reference to disputes over the tax issues, but did not describe the nature of the disputes or whether any progress is being made on a resolution.
He also described money being set aside to pay the debts.
“But the bottom line of the whole thing is, you have disputes, you have things that can’t get ironed out, you have money sitting in escrow today that are not earmarked, they’re sitting there waiting on people to resolve their dispute,” Justice said.
“And the last thing I want in the world is to keep getting beat up on these taxes because the money is sitting there waiting. The money is sitting there waiting, but there are items that have to be resolved.
“People have got to understand that when you deal with the magnitude of what I’m dealing with, there’s complications. The complications have got to get resolved. Absolutely the taxes will be paid.
The taxes and fines owed by coal companies owned by the Justice family were the subject of a National Public Radio investigation published Oct. 7, 2016, about a month before Justice, a Democrat, was elected governor of West Virginia.
The report concluded that mines owned by the Justice family owed about $15 million in taxes and fines in six states, including $4.71 million in West Virginia.
West Virginia’s Republican Party took aim at Justice after the news report on the latest liens.
“Jim Justice continues to avoid his taxes while trying to raise ours,” state Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas stated.
“One or two liens can happen, even to well-run and honest businesses. But the preponderance of hundreds of liens and judgements for millions of dollars against Justice and his companies is unlikely any kind of accident.”
Justice, speaking Monday, said he regrets continued focus on the tax debts.
“I have done so much for so many, but that’s not what you hear all the time. The long and the short of it is, they’ll all be paid, but there are things that have to be resolved.
He continued, “When you look at the magnitude of what I have and what I do, I do pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes. I do employ thousands of people, and we’ve done that forevermore.”