CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Want to know what’s in the documents turned over from the state Department of Commerce to the U.S. Department of Justice?
Here it is.
An investigation involving Gov. Jim Justice and his business holdings by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice was revealed this week. The overall scope of the investigation remains unclear.
The subpoena commanded the state Department of Commerce to provide a range of records about The Greenbrier, The Greenbrier Classic PGA event and Old White Charities, the nonprofit arm of the resort.
Confirmation came about through a MetroNews Freedom of Information Act request for a federal subpoena of the state Department of Commerce.
Through the Freedom of Information Act request, MetroNews asked to review documents at Commerce that were responsive to the federal subpoena. MetroNews completed that review this morning, accessing a full paper box of documents.
The existence of a subpoena is not necessarily confirmation of any wrongdoing or pending charges. And confirmation of one subpoena doesn’t rule out more asking about additional matters.
It merely confirms some aspect of federal interest in West Virginia’s governor.
Here is access to everything that was provided from the state Department of Commerce to the Department of Justice.
Be aware that the list of documents includes a second page.
Most of the documents related to dealings between The Greenbrier and the Department of Commerce, the Development Office and the Division of Tourism prior to Justice’s election as governor in 2016.
Those offices had annual contracts to support The Greenbrier Classic, considering it a venue to show off West Virginia as a business and tourism destination.
By fiscal 2016, the state was providing $1.75 million to support The Greenbrier Classic. That sponsorship was documented not only through public contracts but through news stories at the time.
After Justice took office, he called a halt to those arrangements.
Some contents of the box were relatively minor — invoices for state employees who were traveling to The Greenbrier in support of exhibits or other activities. Some were emails from people seeking passes to go watch the golf tournament.
There were a couple of documents relating to recent events.
Some were ethics exemption requests for Development Office employees who wanted to go to The Greenbrier — to the annual Business Summit, for instance — to build business relationships.
There was also a 2016 tourism expansion project tax credit application relating to the tennis stadium and wedding chapel built at The Greenbrier.
The total project cost was $11.5 million and the tax credit amounted to about $4 million. The agreement began Jan. 20, 2016, and ends Dec. 31, 2025, so it started before Justice was elected.
Another from 2018 had to do with The Greenbrier seeking an exemption to participate in a television advertising campaign in cooperation with the state.
“The documents that have been requested we believe pre-date the governor’s time in office,” Brian Abraham, general counsel for the Governor’s Office, said in a Monday telephone interview.
“From 2016 on, which would have been the year he was running for governor, no monies from the state of West Virginia were paid to the golf tournament or the charity or The Greenbrier. We’ve had in place since the governor took office a moratorium on any agencies or their officials even being able to stay at The Greenbrier.”