Four West Virginia Supreme Court judges were impeached on Tuesday for excessive spending on office renovations and personal expenses.
The West Virginia House of Delegates approved 11 of 14 articles of impeachment.
The justices abused the use of public vehicles and credit cards, along with spending millions of dollars in tax payer money to renovate their chambers. The justices also overpaid senior status judges and failed to properly carry out their administrative duties, allege The Articles of Impeachment.
The West Virginia Supreme Court Justices impeached are Allen Loughry, Elizabeth Walker, Robin Davis, and Margaret Workman.
A fifth member of the court, Justice Menis Ketchum resigned in July and agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud. A special election will be held to replace him NPR reports.
Chief Justice Workman is supposed to preside over impeachment hearings, but since Workman is impeached, Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul T. Farrell was sworn in as acting chief justice.
The State House impeached Loughry for using public money to fund $363,000 for an office renovation, which included a $31,924 sofa. He also removed a historic “Cass Gilbert” executive desk from the state Capitol and took it to his home, according to the articles of impeachment.
Loughry faced eight impeachment articles, which claim he abused government vehicles, laptops and funds for private gain. He also allegedly lied to the House Finance Committee while under oath and unlawfully signed off on excessive salaries for senior status judges.
Walker spent $131,000 on renovations, including $27,000 on office furnishings and wallpaper. Walker was impeached for a lack of oversight of the entire court.
Davis spent more than $500,000 on office renovations. She spent over $23,000 on design services and even purchased an oval rug that cost $20,500. Additionally Davis purchased a $8,000 chair, all on the tax payer’s dime. Davis also approved over-payment for senior status judges during her tenure.
Davis announced her retirement ― effective Monday ― on Tuesday, which removed her from impeachment proceedings. But Davis was still legally impeached.
Davis contends that her impeachment is based on trumped-up charges, calling the effort a “disaster for the rule of law.” Davis went on to say:
“The majority members have ignored the will of the people who elected the justices of this court. They have erased the lines of separation between the branches of government.”
Workman was impeached for approving the over-payment of senior status judges when she was chief justice, which is a violation of state law.
Workman also spent $111,000 to renovate her chambers; although the State House voted to reject an article of impeachment for Workman’s renovation expenditures.
John Shott, Republican Chairman of the State House Judiciary Committee says:
“No one takes joy in this process. Unfortunately, as we pursued the evidence, it became clear that the state Supreme Court has been overcome by a culture of entitlement and cavalier indifference with regard to the spending of taxpayer money.”
Republican Gov. Jim Justice will be allowed to appoint new justices to replace any who are impeached — with no requirement that they be from the same party as the incumbent.