WILLIAMSON, W.Va. -- Mingo County commissioners won't seek the early ouster of fellow Commissioner David Baisden, who pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge Tuesday -- meaning Baisden can stay on the commission and get paid for months.
Baisden must resign from the commission as a condition of his plea sometime before he is sentenced Jan. 14. Until then, he's an elected official and would draw his $36,000 annual salary from the county, Commission President John Mark Hubbard said Wednesday.
Baisden did not attend a commission meeting Wednesday morning in Williamson and has not voted on anything since he was arrested Aug. 15, Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith said.
Baisden, 66, of Delbarton, was the first county official to admit guilt in what federal prosecutors say is an ongoing investigation into corruption in the county. He told U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Tuesday that in 2009, he demanded Appalachian Tire sell him tires for his personal vehicle at a discounted price only available for government vehicles.
When Appalachian Tire refused to give him a discount, Baisden -- who was also the county's purchasing agent at the time -- steered the county's contract to a different company, costing Appalachian Tire thousands of dollars. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced.
Wednesday's County Commission meeting lasted several hours, prompting some in the audience to question if commissioners were delaying the public comment portion of the meeting. Hubbard and Smith went into executive session three separate times, each time for more than 30 minutes, to discuss personnel issues and pending litigation.
Williamson resident Benjamin Cisco waited until the end of the meeting to question the commissioners about Baisden's future.
"Are we really going to pay the salary of an admitted convicted felon?" asked Cisco, who said he took a day off from work to attend the meeting. "We don't need to pay a felon $36,000 a year."
Smith replied that the commission would follow the law and pay Baisden until he resigns. When Cisco asked if Baisden had access to county vehicles or a key to the courthouse, Smith would not answer.