West Virginia government corruption
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The family foundation of former West Virginia governor Sen. Rockefeller, the Rockefeller Family Foundation (RFF), has donated almost $500,000 to anti-coal, pro-cap and trade groups in one year, in addition to the funds that he donated to the Tides Foundation, which made their way into anti-coal efforts.
The RFF is run by the fifth generation of the Rockefeller dynasty. It is a multi-million dollar fund that has continuously supported stopping coal plant construction, including in West Virginia, the state that Sen. Rockefeller represents.
Chafin said he would file a second FOIA request with the DOT if necessary. He planned to hold a Friday, May 22, public hearing at the Mercer County Courthouse on a proposed turnpike toll increase that members of the state Parkways Economic Development and Tourism Authority seek.
“I want some specific answers before they have those hearings,” Chafin said.
Senate Minority Leader Don Caruth (R-Mercer) had disclosed that the turnpike was eligible for federal funding, a different note than Mercer County officials had previously been told. Chafin said that because the turnpike was in the federal interstate system, the state received federal highway dollars for the turnpike. Chafin and Caruth said that the toll money on the road was spent on other highway projects rather than the maintenance and upkeep of the turnpike.
"Jefferson County's new zoning ordinance and a related petition are at the center of a debate.
In December, members of Citizens for a Better Government in Jefferson County submitted more than 3,000 signatures that it had collected as part of a petition drive aimed at bringing the ordinance up for a public vote. As a result, a stay was placed on the ordinance. The previous ordinance was placed back in force until the election can take place.
Since the petition's submission though, a new battle has begun, this one centered around whether the petition - and the names on it - should be considered public information."
The case was filed by The Associated Press after the high court denied an FOIA request for e-mails, visitor logs and other documents held by Chief Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard."
"Attorneys for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette want to question West Virginia University administrators under oath about why the university has not produced departing President Mike Garrison's telephone records and why it withheld and removed portions of other documents the newspaper requested under the state's open records law."
"WVU says in a recently filed response to the lawsuit that it has fully complied with Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper sued WVU in Monongalia County Circuit Court last April, claiming the school would not release documents, including outgoing President Mike Garrison’s e-mail, cell phone and landline records."
The Richmond, Va.-based coal company filed an FOIA request with the court earlier this month seeking e-mails between Starcher, his staff, the court's administrative staff and any third parties that refer to Massey Energy or its chief executive, Don Blankenship."
"State Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher said Tuesday that he has no problem giving his e-mails or other communications to Massey Energy, a few days after the coal giant sued to get them.
Starcher said Tuesday he had no idea that Massey had requested records or documents from his office until he read it in The Charleston Gazette on Tuesday morning."
Oral arguments over the city of Charleston’s refusal to release officer time sheets to the Charleston Gazette are scheduled for Tuesday."
"West Virginia’s capital city is asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a records request from its largest newspaper.
Lawyers for The Charleston Gazette and the city of Charleston are scheduled to argue Tuesday over the city’s 2007 denial of a Freedom of Information Act request for police time sheets and activity logs."
"The city of Charleston finds itself caught between the Fraternal Order of Police and the state’s largest newspaper over officer time sheets, the city’s lawyer told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
The justices expect to rule by the end of the year on The Charleston Gazette’s request for the records."
"A Kanawha Circuit Court judge has dismissed Massey Energy Co.'s lawsuit seeking e-mails of West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher under the Freedom of Information Act.
In her dismissal order filed on Nov. 18, Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker said Massey failed to provide the 30-day notice required by state law before filing a lawsuit against a government agency.
In addition, Massey failed to give a copy of its complaint to the Attorney General's Office, which also is a valid reason to dismiss the lawsuit, Walker said."
"A judge says West Virginia University gave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette all the information that was required last year as the school's administration unraveled over a degree scandal.
It claimed WVU failed to fully answer three FOIA requests, refusing to produce documents that included then-President Mike Garrison's phone records."
"A West Virginia judge has ordered West Virginia University to pay attorney fees and costs incurred by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when it sued the university under the state's open-records law last year.
But Monongalia Circuit Court Judge Robert B. Stone ruled that WVU gave the newspaper all the information it was required to disclose relating to its decision to retroactively award a graduate degree to Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch that she did not earn. Ms. Bresch is the daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin."
Updated From: March 5, 2009
Charleston, West Virgina On Thursday, November 12, 2009, the West Virginia Supreme Court finally delivered its ruling in The Associated Press v. Canterbury. In a 4-1 decision, the court established that private communication to and from government employees do not qualify as a public record. This important decision comes at the same time that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is holding hearings in a similar case.
With the health insurance reform debate going on in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party disagree about whether the United States needs a government-run health care “public option.” However, both sides are in agreement about the need for reform and health professional and insurance industries give millions of dollars to representatives on both sides of the political spectrum.
The health professional industry donated at total of $95,185,139 in 2008 and the insurance industry, which includes health insurance companies, gave $46,832,136. With Democrats lining up behind a public option plan, one would be surprised which elected official representing West Virginia received the most money from these industries.
Rockefeller received $107,174 from the insurance industry between 2003 and 2008. Of that total, $32,950 came from individuals and $74,224 came from Political Action Committees (PAC). Rockefeller also received $258,950 from the health professionals industry, of which $133,050 came from individuals and $125,900 came from PAC donations.
The largest donor to Rockefeller between 2007 and 2009 was the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The organization donated $500, while $15,000 came from 17 lobbyists the group hired.
The SEIU strongly supports government-run health insurance just as Rockefeller is a staunch public option supporter, having recently pushed for the public option amendment to the Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Mark of America’s Healthy Futures Act of 2009.
Rockefeller accepted $10,000 from SEIU in his 2008 re-election campaign, a substantial increase in donations to Rockefeller from the $1,000 SEIU donated to his 2002 re-election campaign.
On the night of the November 2008 election, SEIU issued a press release congratulating Rockefeller on his re-election stating, "Members and leaders of the nation’s strongest and fastest growing union, Service Employees International Union, tonight extend their congratulations to Senator John Rockefeller on his re-election to the U.S. Senate."
“SEIU members proved that they make politics work and elected a candidate who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk,” said SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger. “Now, instead of sitting back and waiting to see what happens, members are staying out in the streets and holding our new leaders accountable for the promises they made over this past campaign season on affordable health care and rebuild the middle class by restoring workers’ freedom to join unions.”
West Virginia is one of nine states where ACORN does not operate.
In the past, ACORN has been accused of paying protesters to counter universal health care protesters, of illegally breaking into foreclosed homes to move people back in, and after a 2008 election voter registration fraud scandal, some members have gone to jail.
Until this year, the Tides Foundation had the co-founder of ACORN on its board of directors. The Tides Foundation contributes funds it receives from donors and grants to progressive organizations.
The group contributes a lot of money to ACORN and its many allied groups, contributing $1,254,418 in grants to three of ACORN's groups, ACORN Institute, ACORN International, and the ACORN Living Wage Center, between 2008 and 2004. Wade Rathke is a former the Tides Board of Directors member and founder of ACORN and is responsible for much of this directed funding.
Rathke's brother, Dale Rathke, was ACORN's CFO until it was revealed he had embezzled almost $950,000 from the group between 1999 and 2000. Wade Rathke subsequently stepped down from ACORN and Tides Foundation after the story broke.
Tides founder, Drummond Pike, anonymously donated about $740,000 to pay the remaining restitution Dale owed to ACORN.
The Legislative Auditor’s Office released a report on September 16, 2009 recommending that the Aviation Division’s revenue shortfall be appropriated by the Legislature instead of through inter-agency fees on automobile fleet rentals.
The Aviation Division is managed by the Department of Administration (DOA) and has this revenue shortfall despite charging agencies for using the state’s five aircrafts. The DOA's Fleet Management Division charges a Fleet Management Administrative Fee of $92 a month to agencies for lease of DOA vehicles in addition to the monthly leasing fee each state agency pays, helping to make up the $2 million shortfall.
Many of the fee-paying agencies either rarely use or never use state aircraft. On the other side, many of the agencies, including Division of Highways, the West Virginia State Police, the Division of Natural Resources, the Division of Forestry, the Department of Agriculture, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the higher education governing boards and their institutions, that use the state’s aircraft are exempt from paying fee.
For example, the Department of Health and Human Resources paid $47,180 in the Fleet Management Administrative Fee in 2008, but logged only 4.1 hours on state aircraft.
The report states:
- “During FY 2007-2009 five agencies (Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, Department of Labor, the Public Service Commission, Division of Motor Vehicles, and Miners Health Safety & Training and Administration) accounted for $1,018,595 in payment of the Fleet Management Administrative Fee. During that time period none of these agencies used the aircraft in the Aviation Division, although they paid 21.87 percent of the total Fleet Management Fees collected.”
- “The fee is inequitable, exceeds the Legislature’s delegation of authority to the DOA, and causes funding to be redistributed away from activities supporting agency mandates toward the funding of the aircraft fleet. Legislative Services legal counsel finds this arrangement inappropriate, stating that the delegation of authority to charge fees granted by West Virginia Code §5A-3-48&52 is expressly tied to vehicle usage and cannot be used for other purposes.”
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