CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate has passed a bill requiring volunteers who do work for public officials to submit ethics disclosures.
The issue arose after businessman Bray Cary became a volunteer in Gov. Jim Justice’s office. Cary is a board member for EQT Corporation, which has significant oil and gas operations in West Virginia.
Cary has been voluntarily submitting his financial disclosure to the state Ethics Commission.
The Senate passed the bill 33-0. There was no debate — just a brief explanation of the bill.
Now the House, which already approved the bill 97-0, would have to concur for it to be sent for the governor’s signature.
Cary is best known for his former role as an executive with West Virginia Media, which owned the State Journal newspaper and WOWK-TV. He remains a minority owner with the State Journal.
It’s his connection to the gas industry that has drawn the most scrutiny to his volunteer role in the governor’s office.
Cary bought several rounds of shares of EQT stock last year. The largest was a purchase in June of 22,627 shares valued at $1,209,186.
EQT’s corporate governance policy says it is the duty of the board of directors to serve as a fiduciary of the company.
The bill that passed the Senate on Friday would update the state Ethics Act to apply to a “public servant volunteer.”
The change to the law defines that as “any person performing services, without compensation, on behalf of a public official and who is granted or vested with powers, privileges or authorities reserved to public officials.”