CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia once again got a failing grade -- this time for the state's level of financial disclosure for judges.
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan nonprofit investigative news organization, released the report Wednesday. The report looked into the level of disclosure throughout the U.S.
When compared to other states, West Virginia ranked 23 on the report. The Mountain State received 46.8 out of 100 points, an F, for financial disclosure.
West Virginia was docked in the areas of investments, gifts/reimbursements and liabilities. However, it scored well in the categories of accountability and the public's ease of access.
The state wasn't alone in its failing grade, however.
In fact, 42 other states received an F. Only two states, California and Maryland, received Cs and six states received Ds. Requirements for federal judges were deemed the best in the report, which gave them a B.
When asked about the report, West Virginia Supreme Court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy responded in a written statement, "we don't comment on special interest or political reports."
The abundance of failing grades made some skeptical.
"Any time a group gives us an F in something, it merits a little inspection but my reaction is with 42 Fs, six Ds, two Cs and a B, it makes me a little skeptical of the perspective of the folks doing this study," said Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha.
"Having said that, I think it still merits looking into the criticisms of us," Palumbo said. "Our overall ranking got us 23 in the country, slightly above the middle. Considering where we are in other rankings, it's not that much to be embarrassed about."
Judges file two financial disclosure forms, sending one to the West Virginia Ethics Commission and the other to the state Supreme Court, the report notes.
Reports with the commission are available online; however, those sent to the state Supreme Court are not, the report notes.
"Financial disclosure under the ethics act, Supreme Court justices and circuit judges are covered by the same standard that all of the other public officials are," explained Joan Parker, executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission.
Parker noted the Ethics Act was amended within the last five years to require more disclosure, such as disclosure of spousal information.
She also explained there are some mechanisms built into judicial code and the ethics act to prevent possible conflicts of interest.
The category of investments is where the state was hit hardest. The report says the state "asks little about the investments of its high court judges," noting in particular that judges aren't required to disclose income, transactions or the value of each investment. Judges only are required to put down the name of the asset.
Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, said there is room for improvement, especially in this area.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed in an F ranking," Manchin said. "It seems there are things we can do better."