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State racing legal services shift withdrawn

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- West Virginia Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss has withdrawn part of an interagency agreement that would have shifted the state Racing Commission's legal services to the state Lottery Commission.

The Charles Town Horsemen's and Benevolent Association filed a petition with the state Supreme Court earlier this month objecting to the change. The association contended that it was a violation of the separation of government powers.

Kiss wrote in a letter to Lottery director John C. Musgrave that the agreement's legal services provisions are not necessary to accomplish the assistance that was contemplated by the agencies, both of which are under the Department of Revenue.

The Journal obtained the letter Tuesday from the Lottery Commission through a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Pursuant to authority granted me as Secretary of Revenue to supervise and act, consistent with current law, with respect to the internal management of agencies within Revenue, effective immediately, please accept this letter as my directive that Racing not request any assistance from Lottery that constitutes legal services,'' Kiss wrote. "Furthermore, notwithstanding the terms of the Agreement, Lottery should not provide legal services if requested by Racing.''

Other provisions regarding accounting and financial support services; internal auditing and research services; special investigative services; and racetrack investigative services will remain in effect.

David Hammer, the horsemen association's lawyer, told the newspaper that the group does not object to the other provisions. He also said that the group's court petition might be moot now.

"I think that's a smart call and a wise choice by Mr. Kiss,'' Hammer told the newspaper.

A lawyer from the attorney general's office had handled legal services for the Racing Commission before the agreement went into effect in June.

"The Office of the Attorney General appreciates Secretary Kiss' cooperation and his instruction that the Interagency Agreement between the West Virginia Lottery Commission and West Virginia Racing Commission exclude provisions relating to legal services. We look forward to resolving this matter quickly,'' Beth Ryan, the office's spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Kiss' letter said that withdrawal of the agreement's legal services provisions was "in no way conceding the issue'' of their validity.

 

 


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