Manchin joins 49 Republicans seeking investigation of Planned Parenthood

July 22, 2015 by joelebert

According to a story posted this afternoon by The Hill, Joe Manchin is the sole U.S. Senate Democrat to join Republicans in calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

The story by Jordain Carney notes:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to comply with congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood in the wake of two secretly-recorded videos.

Manchin joined 49 Republican colleagues on a letter Wednesday to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell that called on her department to “fully cooperate” with the investigations.
You can read Carney’s entire story here.
Here is the letter:

Maloney responds to JIC Justice Davis decision

July 22, 2015 by joelebert

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney sent the following statement out in response to yesterday’s decision by the Judicial Investigation Commission of West Virginia, regarding the now dismissed complaint against Justice Robin Davis:

Just yesterday during my morning ride I stopped and posted on Facebook a telling quote from a statue along the trail:

“Rest here. Reflect here. Honor all those who helped us reach this point. Just don’t stay too long. Because there are many miles ahead.”

Little did I know that within hours a supposedly confidential ethics decision would be blasted out. One thing is clear, there are obviously still a different set of rules for the elitist class of career politicians who have grown to accept corruption and unethical actions as the norm in West Virginia.  As we said many times on the campaign trail for Governor in 2011 and 2012 “Wisdom doesn’t reside under that Golden Dome in Charleston, it resides in all of you – the citizens of West Virginia”

A majority of West Virginians believe that Justice Davis should have disclosed the Learjet transaction. There is something not right with selling a Learjet to a person with a huge case pending before the court, while running for re-election, then accepting campaign contributions from the same individual and making the choice not to disclose it. The fact that a commission appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, which it is responsible for overseeing, found in Justice Davis’ favor means nothing – It’s still wrong!. The West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct very clearly states that ‘ A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.”

This whole escapade screams for one thing – Serious changes to the ethics laws in West Virginia.  Faced with preposterous decisions such as these, most people would just pack their bags and leave. That seems to be the goal and the facts show it’s working.  In 2020 West Virginia will lose another Congressional seat as it continues to lead the nation in population decline. The culture of corruption must end to reverse this spiraling trend and truly allow for a brighter future.

Things never work out exactly as planned but they get better with time if you do the right thing. We continue to take the high road and fight for what’s right, knowing that our maker will see to it that we and above all the citizens of West Virginia WILL win in the end!


Governor Tomblin announces truancy diversion effort

July 22, 2015 by joelebert

From a press release:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the launch of the Truancy Diversion Initiative, part of the governor’s comprehensive juvenile justice reform in West Virginia. The governor introduced the proposal as part of his 2015 State of the State address in January and signed Senate Bill 393 into law April 2, 2015.

“Since becoming governor, I have worked hard to ensure our students have access to a world-class education and the increased opportunities that are critical for long-term success,” Gov. Tomblin said. “This new initiative will help provide early intervention services to those children who need them most, keeping them in school and providing them with the individualized attention they need to get back on track and get the education they need to take advantage of the growing opportunities we are creating in the Mountain State.”

Through a partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education, applications are now available for county boards of education to apply for funding for a truancy diversion specialist to serve local students. As outlined in Senate Bill 393, truancy diversion specialists will serve all 55 counties to work cooperatively with school teachers and staff, the Circuit Court, school districts, and law enforcement officials to redirect at-risk youth toward positive school attendance and engagement.

“Several years ago, the Court began to contract with individual county boards of education to provide school-based probation officers to put a dent in the truancy rate,” West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman said. “This strategy has been dramatically effective in a number of counties. So we’re very pleased that the Governor and the Legislature worked together to expand this practice into all of the counties, and we at the Court are eager to continue to do our part to keep kids in school.”

As part of the initiative, diversion specialists will also work with community-based youth reporting centers to help ensure a smooth transition for students between school and the youth reporting center and work to ensure positive relationships between parents, students, teachers and staff.

“Regular student attendance is critical to success in the classroom and improving the graduation rate,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano said. “I commend Governor Tomblin’s leadership on Senate Bill 393, which will help to reduce truancy in our schools and reduce suspension and juvenile incarceration rates, ultimately ensuring a world-class education for all students.”

Delegate Moffatt asks Gov. for lowered flags

July 21, 2015 by joelebert

From a press release sent out this morning:

Delegate Michel G. Moffatt (R-Putnam) is calling on Governor Tomblin to order all state flags at state-owned facilities to be lowered at half-staff in honor of the six fallen soldiers who were tragically killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16.  He is also asking that members of the National Guard to be armed for self-protection.   In response to this tragedy, several states have ordered their flags to be flown at half-staff and have also taken extra security precautions that include allowing their Guardsman to be armed.  

Here is Moffatt’s letter to the governor:

Download (PDF, 223KB)

Waiting to hear back from the governor’s staff to see what his thoughts are about this. Will update as soon as I get word back.

Daily Mail’s 2016 West Virginia election guide

July 17, 2015 by joelebert

May 10, 2016 – West Virginia’s political junkies may have that date dotted on their iPhones or circled on their calendars but most other people probably don’t.

So why would anyone care about something 298 days from today?

Because its primary Election Day, of course.

Although it is hardly right around the corner, the Daily Mail has begun tracking the basics of who is running for what.

This is nothing particularly difficult – as anyone can find this information on the Secretary of State’s website under the pre-candidacy filings.

But the unfortunate part of using the SoS’s website is it is simply a location to see every single person who has expressed their 2016 intentions. It does not offer a quick and easy way to see who is running against one another, who is leaving office and who hasn’t filed yet.

For that reason, the Daily Mail has compiled this information in an easy-to-use online spreadsheet so you can keep track of the races you may be interested in.

Want to know who has filed pre-candidacy papers for the seat Sen. Herb Snyder is exiting? You can quickly find the answer on our spreadsheet.

There are a few things to note – first, on the Senate page it is really easy to show who is running against each other because there is one senator for each district. But in the House page, things get a bit messy because multiple people represent a district. So if you are looking at who is running to represent the 36th District, you will see three names in the cell across from Nancy Peoples Guthrie. The three hopefuls are not specifically running against Guthrie, as opposed to Larry Rowe and Brad White. They are simply running in the district.

Another thing to note – some of the possible candidates filed their pre-candidcay papers a long time ago. Tyler Cloud Dixon and Phil Hudok, for example filed their candidacy papers in 2013.

Hudok sought the U.S. Senate in the 2014 primary election. He came in last place in the 5-way race, receiving just 2,566 out of 453,659 total votes. Shelley Moore Capito won with 281,820 votes.

All that being said, it is not a certain whether all the people who filed pre-candidacy papers will actually be candidates. So take these filings for what they are.

Filing pre-candidacy papers allows a person to raise and spend money. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And now to some interesting things you can see from the document:

  • As of today, there are 4 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 2 independents, 1 Constitution Party and 1 Libertarian and 1 candidate with no affiliation who have filed pre-candidacy papers for governor.
  • There is one West Virginian who has filed to run for U.S. President. Her name is O. Hope Jerio, of Elkins.  According to articles in the Intermountain, Jerio ran for mayor of Elkins in 2009. Earlier this year, Jerio was “admonished by a judge for her repeated outbursts during a hearing regarding her competency to stand trial,” the newspaper reported. Jerio was charged with one felony count of violating a protective order, third or subsequent offense.
  • A look inside the statehouse candidates reveals 16 incumbent Democrats and 12 Republicans have yet to decide what office they are running for. (To see this, look at the undeclared tab).
  • On the House side, 50 incumbent candidates have yet to file any pre-paperwork, as of this writing. In the Senate, only 3 incumbent candidates have not filed paperwork yet.

This is an ongoing project that we will work to update and further develop each week between now and the primary election. If there is anything you would like to see added to this document or any other suggestions you may have, feel free to email me at

And now without further ado, here is the Daily Mail’s 2016 West Virginia Election guide:





Dept of Commerce spokesperson issues statement on PW

July 15, 2015 by joelebert

The following statement is from Chelsea Ruby, spokesperson for the state Department of Commerce, who is handling press on the prevailing wage-WorkForce West Virginia issue.

To the best of the agency’s belief and understanding, the documents posted online within hours of the subpoena and the second batch of documents delivered to the Joint Committee were reflective of what was provided in response to the initial request. The information in question has now been given to all interested parties and made available to the public. WorkForce will continue to enforce the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.

Legislative Auditor’s analysis of prevailing wage documents

July 15, 2015 by joelebert

The following is what Aaron Allred, the state’s Legislative Auditor, sent out to media yesterday.

Dear Members of the Press:

My IT staff has analyzed the electronic files initially provided by the Executive Branch in response to the Joint Committee’s request for documents related to the calculation of the prevailing wage.  According to my IT staff, the Executive Branch failed to initially provide all the documents which they claim.  My IT staff states:

From my analysis of the two flash drives in question I have drawn the following conclusion. The files in question were definitively missing from the original flash drive, but were included with the second flash drive. If further analysis of the drives or files should be needed, I would suggest employing a third-party digital forensic company that would be better suited to thoroughly analyze the data and give a more in-depth report of their findings.

My office has no idea whether the failure to provide all the documents initially was intentional or merely an error.  However, my office disagrees with the Executive Branch assertion that they provided all documents to the Legislature prior to the Legislature’s issuance of a subpoena.

I have attached for your review the report prepared by the Legislature’s IT staff.

Here is the attached document.

Download (DOC, 33KB)

Blair vs WorkForce

July 14, 2015 by joelebert

Here is the initial request Senator Craig Blair made to WorkForce West Virginia.

Download (PDF, 1.11MB)

And their response.

Download (PDF, 1.03MB)

Here is the document WorkForce provided Blair with the above letter.

Download (PDF, 1.77MB)

Here is a copy of the latest response Blair received on Tuesday from WorkForce West Virginia. It includes a cover letter and 135 pages of other documents, including emails from Steve White and Lesly Messina, both of the Affiliated Construction Trades.

Download (PDF, 3.4MB)

Below is a copy of the letter to WorkForce West Virginia from Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead:

Download (PDF, 1.74MB)

Cole, Morrisey endorse each other for office

July 9, 2015 by Samuel Speciale

Senate President Bill Cole and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today issued a joint statement endorsing each other’s 2016 campaigns. Cole, R-Mercer, is running for governor and Morrisey, also a Republican, is seeking re-election.

Cole issued the following statement:

I am pleased that Attorney General Morrisey has decided to run for re-election. Since taking office, he has worked with the citizens of West Virginia holding sixty-three town hall meetings throughout the state and returning over $18 million to the taxpayers in the past two and one-half years,” said Bill Cole. “General Morrisey has transformed the Office of Attorney General and elevated West Virginia’s voice on key national issues including his tireless efforts to fight the EPA’s assault on our coal jobs. I believe that the Cole-Morrisey ticket will be a strong team that can lead the Republican Party to victory in November 2016,” concluded Cole.

Morrisey had this to say:

I am very pleased to endorse Senator Bill Cole for Governor. West Virginia needs to take bold steps to grow economically to reach her potential. That’s why I support Bill Cole’s candidacy. Bill has tremendous leadership skills, a proven record of success, and a passionate commitment to turning West Virginia around. With Bill Cole as Governor and a Legislature and an Attorney General that work together to eliminate wasteful spending and root out fraud, I believe West Virginia will become more competitive economically with our neighboring states. I’m looking forward to working with Governor Cole and having a terrific partnership between our offices that puts the people of West Virginia first.

Tomorrow, the two will appear at a rally together in Martinsburg.

Kessler issues statement after son plead guilty

July 8, 2015 by joelebert

Jacob Kessler, the 25-year-old son of West Virginia state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, entered a guilty plea for oxycodone trafficking on Wednesday.

The younger Kessler was arrested last December.

Following his plea, the elder Kessler – who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016 – issued a statement.

From the press release:

Today is a day of mixed emotions for me and my family.

My 25 year old son, Jacob, accepted responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge. As a result of his plea, he will be participating in the Federal Drug Court of the Northern District of West Virginia.

I am happy today that my son is doing well, is clean and sober and most importantly alive.

I have spent much of my time in public office talking about the dangers of addiction and working to raise awareness and fight for funding for treatment facilities. Like anyone else who is dealing with addiction, my son needs help.  His arrest in December has proven to be the change he needed to help turn his life around.

Jacob was released from the Northern Regional Jail in February and entered Miracles Happen, a residential substance abuse program.  Following the completion of his 90-day rehabilitation, he entered Lazarus House, a sober living facility that provides a place to live, recover and reconnect with society for those who are recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. Jacob is still living at Lazarus House today.

Addiction touches countless lives. Drug abuse is a huge epidemic in our state and is an equal opportunity destroyer.  Being an elected official makes me no different than any other West Virginian who is dealing with a family member’s addiction.  Anyone who has faced the illness of addiction in a loved one can relate to what’s happening with my son and the toll it has taken on my family. Nevertheless, I remain today what I’ve always been first and foremost and that’s Jacob’s father. I love my son. I will continue fighting for him and all other West Virginians who are suffering from addiction.