Democrats in the West Virginia House of Delegates fear losing their power, and they'll do anything to maintain their stranglehold on West Virginia. That includes using their public offices and state resources to reach potential voters.
According to a report released this week, several House Democrats are misusing their franking privileges: mailing out letters that could be labeled as campaign materials. These letters are not on official House letterheads, but West Virginia's taxpayers are footing the bill for the paper, the envelopes, the manpower, and the the mailing costs.
The quantity of these letters correspond closely with the number of likely Democrat voters in their districts. Compared to other years, when mailings were a mere trickle, this year brought about a torrent of thousands of mailings.
"We believe that the quantities sent out by each member closely match certain segments of the public very likely to vote in the 2014 Primary and General Elections," the report says. "We believe, once these lists are acquired from the House of Delegates, it will be obvious that the recipients were chosen specifically as likely Democrat or Independent voters, rather than random constituents."
The report singles out eight Democrat House members. For example, Delegate Justin Marcum (D-Mingo) sent out 3,386 pieces of mail at a cost of $1672.90 to taxpayers. There are 3,463 likely Democratic voters in that district. Marcum is facing a primary challenge.
Marcum, an assistant prosecutor in Mingo County, is a member of Team Mingo, a slate of state and county candidates, some of whom were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's office. Four county officials connected to Team Mingo, including the county prosecutor and a circuit court judge, pleaded guilty to various felonies.
According to the Logan Banner, House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison) encouraged moderate Democrats who were getting beat up at home for voting to not discharge the 20-week abortion ban out of committee, to use their franking privileges to send letters to their districts refuting this.
"...In February, Miley and leadership urged Democrat delegates to use their 'franking' privileges to 'combat stories told by Republicans and the media about the protect-the-baby bill," article states. "It was reported that those Democrats complained, during a caucus that is technically confidential, that they were 'being murdered at home' for failing to vote pro-life on the baby bill."
Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, told that Logan Banner “I don’t think the taxpayers of West Virginia expect their hard-earned tax dollars to be used in re-electing Democrats. I especially doubt that they want to promote the campaign of Nancy Pelosi Guthrie.”
House Democrat leadership have not addressed these accusations, but if true, it truly shows that it's time for new leadership in the West Virginia House of Delegates. A lawmaker cannot use state resources for personal gain. It's a violation of the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act.
Hopefully any lawmaker misusing public resources will be punished, if not now, then when Republicans sweep the House in 2014.