On Labor Day weekend, we celebrated the working men and women of our state and nation. On that day, the Charleston Gazette-Mail aptly raised the question, “Who is our governor working for, himself or us?”
To do your job well you need to actually show up for work. Our governor is being sued because he refuses to live in Charleston as the state Constitution requires. He seems to be trying to govern from Greenbrier County, while delegating many of his duties to unelected appointees.
He refuses to disclose his income tax filings or put his more than 100 businesses into a blind trust. Just how much is he raking in as our publicly elected governor? Other wealthy WV governors have disclosed their income and sequestered business interests to prevent the obvious conflict of doing business with the state while running the state.
The most glaring example of these conflicts of interest is his ownership and promotion of the Greenbrier resort. Just last month, the WV Chamber of Commerce held its big annual meeting there. Business leaders from around the state booked expensive rooms and wined and dined state officials.
This ethical conflict goes all the way back to the governor’s inauguration, which instead of being held in Charleston, poured $1 million into his Greenbrier Resort. How sweet it must be to get elected governor, then pay yourself $1 million in business donations from your Inaugural Committee to have a party at your resort.
We have a public, non-partisan Ethics Commission in our state, set up to monitor these kind of conflicts between governing and profiting from public office. The problem is that it has no ‘teeth’ to go after politicians who are obviously doing so.
Charleston Gazette-Mail columnist Phil Kabler has pointed out this major shortcoming in the agency assigned to keep our politicians ethical. We should be demanding that our senators and delegates give this commission the tools to do its job properly. If they refuse, we need to elect representatives that will.
We also should also a governor in 2020 who will work for us, not just for himself.