In what has to be the feel-good story of the day, The Hill is now reporting that the West Virginia House of Delegates actually voted on Monday night to impeach all of the justices on the state Supreme Court. This decision was prompted by reports of extravagant spending on office renovations.
In a series of votes that of course fell along party lines, lawmakers approved 11 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices. Sending the process on to the State Senate.
State lawmakers had originally voted to impeach Justice Allen Loughry on eight articles after he and his office spent $363,000 in renovations. This became an issue when he was allegedly found to have lied to the House Finance Committee about having a $42,000 antique desk and computers, owned by the state, transferred to his home. And also was found to be using state vehicles for his personal use.
Here is more on this via Fox News:
“West Virginia lawmakers, seeking to remove every justice on the state’s four-member Supreme Court amid what they called an “over-the-top” spending scandal, impeached three justices on Monday, including Chief Justice Margaret Workman.
One article of impeachment said Workman and Justice Robin Davis signed documents in their roles as chief justices allowing for senior status judges to be paid higher than allowed wages. Lawmakers say the overpayments violated state law and stopped when they were challenged by the Internal Revenue Service.
Earlier Monday, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 64-33 to send an impeachment article against Davis to the state Senate for trial. The vote came shortly after lawmakers also impeached indicted Justice Allen Loughry by a vote of 64-33. Loughry’s impeachment vote, which came after approximately two hours of debate, took only seconds, NPR reported.
Fox reported that one justice escaped impeachment, but that has now changed:
“Justice Beth Walker is the only current justice who has not been impeached as of Monday evening.
Walker was cleared late Monday of an impeachment article for spending $131,000 on renovations after taking office last year. She still faces another article that accuses her and the three other justices of abusing their authority by failing to control office expenses and not maintaining policies over critical matters. Some lawmakers said they didn’t condone Walker’s spending but said it paled in comparison to other justices.”
The Charlotte Observer is now reporting that another vote was held & Justice Walker has been impeached also:
“The West Virginia House of Delegates has impeached all four of the state’s Supreme Court justices.
The Republican-led House on Monday night impeached Justice Beth Walker and the other justices for abusing their authority. The article says they failed to control office expenses and not maintaining policies over important matters such as working lunches, the use of state vehicles and office computers at home.
Walker was the last of the four justices to be impeached. She had avoided impeachment earlier when the House voted not to pass an article against her for $131,000 in renovations she made after taking office last year.”
Fox News continues:
“The impeachments do not remove the justices from office. The articles will go to the Senate, which can formally remove the justices only by a two-thirds vote.
The charges were largely related to the justices’ use of state funds to conduct office renovations. Davis spent more than $500,000 on her office and Loughry spent more than $363,000 on his.
Loughry is under federal indictment and named in eight impeachment articles, including allegations he lied about taking home a $42,000 antique desk and a $32,000 suede leather couch.
On Monday, Loughry was impeached under six impeachment articles, including for allegedly driving state vehicles for personal use and of using state-owned computers at his home. He was also impeached for his role in assuring higher pay for senior status judges.
Republican Delegate Tom Fast of Fayette County said he had seen the work done in Davis’ office, including track lighting on the floor. He characterized the renovations as “over-the-top” and said the impeachment article “is one of the more easy ones” for him to support.
However, some legislators said they didn’t support impeaching any justice for wasteful spending, only for articles pertaining to lying, cheating or stealing.
Several lawmakers noted that the Supreme Court has a separate budget and is currently allowed to spend as it sees fit. A proposed constitutional amendment this fall would bring the state courts’ budget partly under legislative control.
But State GOP Delegate John Shott, who helped draw up the impeachment articles, said that if West Virginians do not trust their highest court, “we need to take action to try to rebuild that trust.”
Normally, West Virginia has five Supreme Court justices who are elected to serve a 12-year term. However, Menis E. Ketchum resigned from the state Supreme Court in July after he was accused of alleged federal wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of defrauding the state and faces up to 20 years in prison.”
Justice Robin Davis was also impeached after allegedly using $500,000 for office renovations.
Reports are now also adding that state lawmakers had initially overlooked Chief Justice Margaret Workman’s spending of $111,000 on office renovations. So she was also later impeached for her role in allegedly allowing senior-status judges to receive higher wages than allowed by state law. Davis and Loughry have also been accused of this.
Justice Beth Walker was the final justice whom lawmakers voted to impeach after she was found to be guilty of abusing her authority. This article also counted against the other justices. Lawmakers had previously decided to look past her spending $131,000 on office renovations.
The former Justice Menis Ketchum was reported to have stepped down from the bench last month and pleaded guilty to one count of federal wire fraud.
The West Virginia Governor, Republican Jim Justice will be allowed to appoint new justices to replace those who were impeached. He is not required to appoint justices from the same party as the incumbent as well so let the left wing whining begin.