Democrats on House Judiciary Committee call for impeachment action on Loughry

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee say they have heard enough evidence on suspended West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry in an impeachment investigation and demanded that the Republican leadership bring it to a vote. (WCHS/WVAH)

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday they have heard enough evidence on suspended West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry in an impeachment investigation and demanded that the Republican leadership bring it to a vote.

The Democratic members of the House panel said in a news release that they have prepared a resolution to enact Articles of Impeachment against Loughry immediately based on the evidence presented during several days of testimony, legislative audits presented several months ago, the Judicial Investigation Commission report that led to Loughry’s suspension, former Justice Menis Ketchum’s resignation and the federal grand jury indictments.

“Enough is enough,” said Barbara Evans Fleischauer, minority chair of the Judiciary Committee in the news release. “We have been in special session looking at this for over five weeks and the evidence we have seen on Justice Loughry just confirms what was already found in three prior investigations.”

Loughry faces a 23-count indictment that accuses him of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and making false statements to the FBI. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Loughry also faces allegations that he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

So far, the House Judiciary Committee has heard evidence that has had a heavy focus on Loughry but also has included information on the other justices – Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker. Testimony has delved into hundreds of thousands of renovations made at the Supreme Court, including work on the justices’ offices, travel, lunches and use of state resources.

The committee decided it would not hear evidence against Ketchum, who announced he was retiring and resigning from his post effective at the end of the business day on July 27. Federal prosecutors said Ketchum has agreed to plead guilty in an information to a one-count wire fraud charge.

“Former Justice Ketchum has not only resigned, but he's agreed to plead guilty to federal charges with the United States Attorney. Despite a 23-count indictment, Justice Loughry doesn’t appear willing to do the same,” Fleischauer said.

Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, introduced a resolution during the regular session Feb. 5 to initiate an impeachment inquiry on Loughry.

“Here we are six months after I filed my resolution, more than a month after we convened this impeachment proceeding, and nothing has happened,” Pushkin said.

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