HuffPost reported Tuesday that all four West Virginia Supreme Court justices were voted to be impeached by the House of Delegates this week following an extensive investigation into the justices’ excessive spending on various office renovations.
Eleven of the 14 articles of impeachment were approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates during proceedings on both Monday and Tuesday, forcing the already suspended judges to go to trial. All four justices – Allen Loughry, Margaret Workman, Robin Davis, and Elizabeth Walker – were charged with excessive spending and abusing their authorities, in addition to not properly carrying out their administrative duties. The fifth Supreme Court justice, Menis Ketchum, had already resigned in July, pleading guilty to wire fraud charges.
According to the impeachment articles, the justices “failed to control office expenses, including more than $1 million in renovations to their individual offices, and not maintaining policies over matters such as working lunches and the use of state vehicles and office computers at home.”
While Supreme Court justices in West Virginia ordinarily hold 12-year terms, they can be impeached at any time for “maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor.”
Justice Allen Loughry was impeached for reportedly spending over $363,000 in office renovations, lying under oath, overpaying his staff, and abusing government property. Workman was also impeached for overpaying her employees and for spending $111,000 to redecorate her chambers.
Davis, on the other hand, outdid all of her colleagues, spending a grand total of $500,000 in office renovations alone, purchasing a single oval rug for over $20,000. According to the impeachment articles, Davis approved overpayment for her staff as well during her six-year term.
While Walker also spent over $100,000 worth of office renovations, spending approximately $131,000 to be exact, she was ultimately impeached for lack of oversight.
Governor Jim Justice is expected to replace any of the justices who have been impeached “with no requirement that they be from the same party as the incumbent.” Because of this, House Democrats have accused Republicans of attempting to sway the court in their own favor.
Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer believes that only Loughry should have been impeached, claiming that the removal of the other justices “was a power grab, was a takeover of the court and using the impeachment process to take over another branch of government.”
John Shott, a Republican who chaired the House Judiciary Committee, however, asserted that this is an opportunity “to take action to try to rebuild” the people’s trust in the court.