Legislature passes bill dealing with ‘public servant volunteers’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice will now decide what to do with a bill inspired by a high-profile volunteer working in his office.

The Legislature on Saturday night passed a bill requiring volunteers working in official capacities in the government to submit ethics disclosures.

The House of Delegates concurred on Saturday night with a Senate amendment and passed the bill 96-0, completing legislative action.

The Senate on Friday passed the bill 33-0. There was no debate — just a brief explanation of the bill.

Now the bill goes to the governor to veto, sign or pass into law without his signature.

Bray Cary

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.

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 Legislature 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.”

 

 





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