Justice-elect holding book signing, fundraiser
State Supreme Court Justice-elect Allen Loughry will hold a book signing and fundraiser tonight in downtown Charleston.
His 2006 book is about political corruption in West Virginia, including "money dominance in politics."
Invitees to Republican Loughry's event include lobbyists for the coal industry, Walmart and the state's major utility companies, though it's unclear how many plan to attend.
R. Austin Wallace, the head of the West Virginia Mutual Insurance Co., is hosting the fundraiser at the company's office on the 12th floor of the United Bank building. The nonprofit company provides malpractice insurance to the state's doctors.
Loughry said the event was no different than any of the other book signings he has held for his book, "Don't Buy Another Vote, I Won't Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid and Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia."
"I'm proud of my book, and I'm hopeful that it leads to positive changes in our state's political system," Loughry said.
"My understanding, from my treasurer, is that we have a very small campaign debt and that people who attend the book signing are welcome to make a legal contribution to eliminate that debt. There will be absolutely no pressure on anyone to make any contribution."
Loughry said the event is his first fundraiser of the campaign. He tried to rely on a public financing system created by the state Legislature, but the Supreme Court dismantled the program based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Loughry eventually was able to seek private donations.
Tonight's event could recoup, at most, the couple thousand dollars Loughry said he loaned himself in his campaign's final weeks - plus whatever proceeds he gets from selling books.
He said he planned to close his campaign account on Dec. 19, when a post-election filing is due. That means he would not be involved in any fundraising again until it is time to run for reelection. He was just elected to a 12-year term on the state's high court.
Loughry said he did not know who would attend.
Jan Vineyard, the head of the state's business and industry council, said she emailed invitations at the request of Wallace, one of her organization's members. Wallace did not return a phone call seeking comment.
"I had no idea about that, and I haven't discussed it with Jan Vineyard or anybody like that," Loughry said.
Loughry is not the only statewide election winner to hold a post-election fundraiser this month. However, his commitment to closing his campaign account this month whether or not he pays off his debts may be unique.
Republican Attorney General-elect Patrick Morrisey held a post-election fundraiser last Thursday to try to recoup the $940,000 he loaned his own campaign.
Some of the attendees included lawyers who Morrisey's supporters have accused of being part of a "pay to play" system put in place by current Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
Morrisey defeated McGraw in the Nov. 6 election.
These are lawyers who donated to McGraw's campaign but also received work from McGraw's office to handle legal matters for the state.
Charleston lawyer Troy Giatras, who was photographed on election night with an arm around McGraw's back, was spotted at Morrisey's fundraiser, as was Anthony Majestro, another Charleston lawyer who does work for the Attorney General's Office and donated to McGraw.
In April, the anti-McGraw group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said "McGraw's campaign finance reports give off an unseemly appearance of 'pay-to-play'" because of donations from such lawyers.
Morrisey adviser Scott Will said Morrisey plans to go about "de-politicizing the system" by creating a competitive bidding process to select outside lawyers.
"Under such a system and in a Morrisey Attorney General office, campaign contributions will have no role in how outside counsel are selected," Will said in an email.
"So, while we are grateful for support provided by individuals, the revised bidding policies that will be put in place after Attorney General-elect Morrisey takes office should give confidence to the public that this Attorney General's office will never operate any so called 'pay to play' regime."
Other attendees were said to include Bowles Rice partners Tom Graff and Fazal Shere; lobbyists Marc Harman and Larry Swann; Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso attorneys Jeff Wakefield and Danielle Waltz Swann; Spilman Thomas & Battle lawyers Leah Macia and Jane Cline; and Charleston attorney Rusty Webb.
Morrisey's campaign did not confirm the list or the number of attendees, which was described as being at most a few dozen people.
One supporter had previously said Morrisey hoped to raise $100,000 at a December fundraiser. It is unclear if his campaign did so and the information will not be made public until next spring, according to the filing periods set in state law.
On the same night as Morrisey's fundraiser, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, a Charleston lawyer, held a tongue-in-cheek debt retirement fundraiser for the $300 or so in debt his campaign had.
Carper said he had "well over 100" people attend the event at Aladdin's restaurant in Kanawha City.
"Of course, having lived here my whole life, it's a little easier," Carper said. The wry reference was to Morrisey, who moved to the Eastern Panhandle in 2006.
Carper said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin stopped by, as did newly elected state Sen. Chris Walters, R-Kanawha, plus delegates, judges, firefighters and a few area businessmen.
Carper said he raised "a little over $10,000" despite some tongue-in-cheek checks, like one for just over $20 that said it was for "shrimp and two drinks."
Carper thinks the cost of the event will total $6,000 or $7,000 when all the bills are paid. He loaned his campaign $15,000, he said, and will use the excess to partially repay himself.