HOUSE Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, announced he will make government accountability a priority in the upcoming legislative session. But his proposal is aimed at the first Republican to be elected state attorney general in 84 years rather than in genuine reform.
If his aim was to bring the two major parties together, Miley's announcement was less than helpful.
"While Democrats can point to criminal activity within the Republican Party such as that of Arch Moore while he was governor of West Virginia, Republicans can point to the criminal activities of elected Democrat officials in Mingo County," Miley said in a press release.
Is that the best Democrats can do, point to a scandal from a quarter-century ago? And a Democratic Mingo County sheriff was part of that scandal.
If Moore is still fair game, then so are his contemporaries, Democrats Charlie Brown and A. James Manchin, who resigned in disgrace 25 years ago as attorney general and state treasurer, respectively.
Brown had apparently perjured himself in domestic court on a personal matter while under A. James Manchin, the state's pension fund lost $279 million. His top assistant was later convicted and served time in federal prison.
The fact is that repeatedly Southern West Virginia has been the source of numerous political scandals including vote fraud in Lincoln and Logan counties in this century, not just the distant past. In the last few months, federal prosecutors have busted a judge for attempting to frame his lover's husband.
All these very recent scandals involve Democrats because Democrats have run a one-party political machine in the southern part of the state for roughly a century.
Miley's proposal also contains a dangerous provision that would allow opponents to sue officeholders rather than go through the legal process of investigating claims. Democratic trial lawyers stand ready to harass Republicans who dare gain public office.
A serious government reform effort would be bipartisan. Miley's proposal and his announcement show he is more interested in politicking than he is in governing.
Real reform is up to voters. As long as one party dominates so much of the state, corruption is likely to flourish.