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ICYMI ???????????? Charleston Gazette-Mail Editorial: “So much smoke around Gov. Justice, there must be fire”
Gazette-Mail: “How can Justice be an ally to the working coal miner when his companies rack up violations and never pay fines for them?”
In case you missed it, the Charleston Gazette-Mail Editorial Board excoriated Gov. Jim Justice for his long track record of refusing to pay his employees and the fines his businesses have racked up. This past week, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against 23 coal companies owned by or affiliated with Justice to collect nearly $4 million in miner-safety violations. The Gazette-Mail took Justice to task. Read the full ???? editorial below:
Charleston Gazette-Mail Editorial: So much smoke around Gov. Justice, there must be fire
The federal government has filed suit against 23 coal operations controlled by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his son and daughter, seeking $4.8 million in fines that have gone unpaid from more than 2,700 safety violations.
This comes as news reports have surfaced that subpoenas from at least two federal agencies have been issued seeking information on Justice’s taxes and relationships between state agencies and Justice’s businesses — which he’s never really divested himself of in a true blind trust.
The most recent controversies surrounding the governor send up new plumes of smoke following years of reports that Justice or one of his multiple companies owe millions in unpaid lawsuit judgments, have stiffed vendors and not paid taxes. A story in Forbes magazine last month dubbed Justice “The Deadbeat Billionaire” in its headline, going on to lay out how Justice or his companies, in blunt summary, seem to never pay anyone for anything.
Even in this most recent federal case, Justice’s attorney said there were ongoing negotiations regarding the fines, and they are “disappointed” that a U.S. Attorney decided to file a lawsuit. The attorney also promised that the lawsuit would be “vigorously defended.”
Of that last point, there’s little doubt. The one group of people Justice probably does pay are his attorneys, although even that much is hard to say with absolute certainty.
Should the federal government win its case, it will probably join a long line of those who have been waiting on money from Justice or one of his companies long after they issued a bill, issued another bill, turned the matter over to a collections agency, then finally sued and got a judgment in their favor. Apparently, you don’t get rich or stay that way by accepting standard business practices or acknowledging the authority of the United States court system.
Of course, it’s important that Justice, whether as governor or businessman, not be above the law. What’s more alarming is what all of these issues combined say about the man running the state. How can Gov. Justice be an ally to the working coal miner when his companies rack up violations and never pay the fines that come with them? How can Gov. Justice be on the side of the hardworking taxpayer when it appears he avoids paying those owed by his own businesses?
What would happen to you if you didn’t pay your mortgage or your taxes? Do you think you’d be granted extended negotiations with attorneys to work out a deal?
It’s fair to ask if Justice is, indeed, the successful businessman he claims to be. Sure, the wealthy take advantage of ways to shield their money, but these legal problems seem like they could be cleaned up pretty quickly by a billionaire.
You can say that’s not the way it works. That ultra-wealthy business owners have to fight in court to protect being bled out by a thousand cuts. But, at this point, with Justice, there’s so much smoke that the house must be on fire.