House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, sought an advisory opinion from the state Ethics Commission on whether he could be general counsel for the West Virginia Education Association — apparently while continuing as speaker.
The staff of the Ethics Commission had to think about it, but commissioners did not.
"This is truly over the top," said Terry Walker, a member of the commission and a former legislator.
He was not alone in reacting to this jaw-dropping
"I basically believe this would be an impossible task to perform without a conflict of interest," said commissioner Jack Buckalew, another former legislator and a retired superintendent of the State Police.
Thompson had asked whether he could work for
"an association whose membership consists of public employees"— apparently while continuing to shape
budgets and make law as speaker of the House.
The WVEA represents current and retired employees of the schools in the state. More than half the spending on public schools in West Virginia is controlled by the state, which basically makes the rules for school personnel.