Attorney Steve Ruby discusses why the governor of West Virginia was approved to use West Virginia’s state plane to and from his hometown.
It’s not common for official state planes to make side trips to governors’ hometowns. However, the state of West Virginia recently approved such use for Gov. Jim Justice. Officials recently stated that the plane can fly to Justice’s hometown when he needs to conduct official state business. However, attorney Steve Ruby added that the plane can also fly him to campaign events, but only when it coincides with such official state business.
Steve Ruby explained that questions arose surrounding the governor’s use of the plane, especially when accessing campaign events. However, the state’s ethics commission stated that as long as the trip is primarily for conducting official state business, the governor can attend a campaign event while at the destination. Steve Ruby explained the primary purpose of the trip cannot be a campaign event.
Steve Ruby added that the ethics commission confirmed lodging and meals for the governor’s campaign events will not be paid for by the state. This issue came about when the governor asked the commission to come to a conclusion regarding the use of the plane, because he wanted to ensure it is in line with the state’s regulations.
Steve Ruby explained the governor has been involved in an enduring lawsuit regarding the governor possibly violating a passage of the state of West Virginia’s Constitution. The Constitution states that the governor must reside in the state capital of Charleston, W.V., but Justice currently lives roughly 100 miles away in Lewisburg.
Attorney Steve Ruby added that the state plane has transported Justice to or from Lewisburg as opposed to Charleston, W.V., which is why the governor was concerned with determining if such use was approved by the ethics commission. Brian Abraham, general counsel for Justice, stated that Justice uses the state plane far less frequently than previous governors. Abraham added that Justice isn’t using the plane for private enjoyment or any type of money-making endeavor. Attorney Steve Ruby confirmed these statements appeared to be true.
Steve Ruby explained that despite complaints from a Republican businessman running against Justice for the governor’s seat, the ethics commission deemed it acceptable that the state plane access Justice’s hometown instead of the state capital. Steve Ruby finished by stating that Justice is not receiving any private gain. The plane is simply traveling to a more convenient location, saving time and money for everyone involved.