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Democrats are suing West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for refusing to disclose work schedule

Democrats sued West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican Senate candidate, on Tuesday for refusing to release his work schedule as governor in response to a request for public records aimed at showing a continuing pattern of absenteeism. .

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision follows months of back-and-forth with the Justice Bureau over whether disclosure of the records is required under West Virginia law. Such requests are a typical part of opposition research conducted by opposing campaigns and political parties.

In this case, Democrats believe they are plowing fertile ground as Justice prepares for a potential 2024 showdown against Sen. Joe Manchin III (D) in a state Republicans see as one of their best opportunities. of pickup.

In 2019, two years into Justice’s governorship, the media described him as largely uninterested in his duties after his office released copies of his schedules. The Associated Press reported at the time that Justice almost never met with his cabinet, was rarely on Capitol Hill, and was critically missing a legislative session. Critics said Justice, a coal mining billionaire, seemed more interested in tending to his private business interests.

The DSCC is looking for copies of Justice’s timeline from January 2017 to present to show a continuing trend. The lawsuit was filed in circuit court in West Virginia.

A spokesperson for the Justice campaign has accused Democrats of being in “panic mode” since Justice entered the race on April 27 and of trying to bolster his main Republican opponent, five-term Representative Alex Mooney. (R).

“[T]Democrats are panicking and will do whatever they can to support Alex Mooney, whom they know they can easily beat in the general election,” Justice campaign spokesman Roman Stauffer said in a statement.

The lawsuit argues that the justice bureau is breaking the law in an effort to shield him from more negative attention.

“Jim Justice can’t hide his work schedule – or lack thereof – from the people of West Virginia, and it’s an area that will certainly come under greater scrutiny during his dirty primary and before a court,” DSCC spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement.

Before Justice entered the race, his work ethic was already the subject of intense scrutiny, including in an op-ed last month in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“Of course, work was not always a priority for the two-term governor, who remained immersed in his private business interests (often in court for unpaid fees, fines or taxes), continued to coaching high school basketball and is only in the capital a few days a week,” the post wrote.

Besides coal mining, the Justice family’s holdings include the Greenbrier resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., where he announced his candidacy last month.

Justice appeared on stage with Babydog, his English bulldog, who joined him frequently during his political career, including during his 2022 State of the State address at the West Virginia Capitol.

Justice, 72, was first elected governor as a Democrat in 2016. He announced he was switching parties and becoming a Republican at a 2017 rally hosted by then-President Donald Trump , in Huntington, W.Va.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has often criticized President Biden on environmental and economic policies, said he would announce by the end of the year whether he would seek another term in the Senate.


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