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McDowell delegate: Politics behind traffic arrest

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A four-term member of the House of Delegates said Monday he believes politics played a role in his arrest for driving on a revoked license on Friday in McDowell County.

"I do think there was a little bit of misconduct by the Welch police," said Clif Moore, a four-term Democratic delegate.

According to the complaint in McDowell County Magistrate Court, Moore was cited after police ran a check of his license during a traffic stop on U.S. 52 Friday evening.

However, Moore said that when he asked the police officer why he had been stopped, the officer told him he was driving on a revoked license. "That was even before he asked me for my insurance and registration," Moore said.

Moore was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, last November on charges of driving under the influence.

He entered a plea agreement in January, and made subsequent media appearances apologizing for his poor judgment and promoting driver safety.

As part of the agreement, the court in Ohio granted him limited privileges to drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. for business purposes during the suspension of his license, he said.

Moore said he assumed the court order was valid in West Virginia under rules of reciprocity.

"I didn't know I was revoked in the state of West Virginia," he said.

Moore said he thinks the traffic stop Friday was suspicious, coming one month before the May primary election and in the hometown of one of his opponents in the Democratic primary in the newly reconfigured 26th Delegate District.

Moore faces Welch resident Ed Evans, a teacher at Mount View High School, and Bluefield resident Edwin Vanover in the May 8 election. There is no Republican candidate filed in the district.

"I think they were tipped off in advance," Moore, a resident of Thorpe, said of the traffic stop.

"I asked the officer if I was speeding and he said no. Driving erratically? And he said, 'No, you're driving revoked,'" Moore said, describing the traffic stop.

He noted the negative publicity also comes immediately in advance of candidate interviews by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the newspaper that constitutes the major media endorsement in the 26th District race.

"I think there's been a violation of my personal rights," he said.

Calls to the Welch Police Department were routed to the McDowell County 911 center late Monday afternoon, where the dispatcher said there was no one available at the department to comment.

During the 2012 regular session, Moore was lead sponsor of legislation that will create an Office of Minority Affairs within the governor's office.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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