Governor Justice to host VP Pence for pricey gathering at The Greenbrier

Gov. Jim Justice, who says he is not a politician, is hosting a pricey fundraiser at The Greenbrier with special guest Vice President Mike Pence.

The event is this Saturday at the resort owned by Justice and his family.

“Governor Jim Justice is excited to welcome Vice President Mike Pence back to West Virginia. President Trump and Vice President Pence’s strongest ally in West Virginia is Governor Jim Justice. They have worked to grow our economy, create more jobs, and tackle the drug crisis,” said communications director Clay Sutton for Justice’s re-election campaign.

Pence fundraiser

The campaign did not say how many people are expected at the fundraiser.

Mike Pence

Pence is chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Justice is leading West Virginia’s coronavirus response, with daily briefings urging people to wear masks, wash hands and stay away from large gatherings.

The governor last month lowered West Virginia’s social gathering limit from 100 people down to 25.

“The 25-person limitation applies only to purely social gatherings,” according to state guidelines.

The limit does not apply to “group meetings, conferences or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by the emergency order signed by Justice. “Such meetings, conferences, or other special events will need to plan for social distancing between attendees based on CDC recommendations.”

Social distancing will be practiced at the fundraiser, promised Sutton, the Justice campaign communications director.

“The event with Vice President Pence will adhere to all COVID-19 mask requirements, social distancing, and personal protection policies recommended by local, state, and federal governments,” he stated Monday in response to MetroNews questions.

Invitations that went out to potential Republican donors suggest RSVPing quickly because space is limited.

The price to participate is significant.

The invitation starts with roundtable seating available for $25,000 a person.

There’s an $11,200 per person level that includes a photo opportunity.

There’s a $2,800 per person luncheon.

Or those who can’t attend are invited to give whatever they can.

Justice, owner of The Greenbrier as well as coal and agriculture holdings, often describes a close relationship with President Trump, a fellow Republican who refers to him as “Big Jim.”

Justice’s campaign benefited in 2019 from an appearance by Donald Trump Jr. at The Greenbrier. That pre-pandemic fundraiser brought in $193,454 for Justice’s campaign.

But Justice has repeatedly said he is a businessman, not a politician.

“I’m not a lifer politician who has had a government job and got rich for it,” Justice said during a regular coronavirus briefing on July 31.

ProPublica, The Associated Press and other media outlets reported that Justice-owned companies received up to $24 million in Paycheck Protection Program meant to provide economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Greenbrier, among the Justice companies benefiting, listed “0” in a column about the number of jobs that would be retained on account of the loan.

Justice, over and over, has emphasized that he is interested in the responsibilities of being governor, not politics.

“I don’t deal with my campaign,” he said Friday. “I’ve never been to our campaign headquarters.” 

Paul Hardesty

Meanwhile, Justice’s campaign announced a fundraising team to be headed by Democratic state Senator Paul Hardesty, a former Justice companies lobbyist who is not running for re-election, and businessman Larry Pack, a Republican.

“I am honored to have two superstars who are helping my campaign. Paul and Larry share my vision and love of West Virginia. I appreciate their hard work and support of my campaign,” Justice stated in the announcement.

Hardesty was named by Justice to the Senate to represents Boone, Lincoln, Logan, and Wayne Counties after the resignation of an incumbent Democrat, Richard Ojeda.

“I’ve known Governor Justice a long time. He’s an experienced commonsense businessman who has a record of getting results. I am proud to support his re-election campaign, and I look forward to working with him to move West Virginia forward,” Hardesty said in a statement about his fundraising role.

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