In 1974, mine inspectors wanted a pay raise. So they put hundreds of
dollars in a brown paper
bag and headed to Charleston.
The money was intended for Delegate T. J. Scott, D-McDowell, who
increase their salaries. They gave the bag to
the chairman of the House Finance Committee, and
asked him to deliver
it to Scott. The finance chairman turned the money over to Lewis
D-Raleigh, who was then speaker of the House.
McManus remembers calling the mine inspectors in for a meeting. They
confirmed the payment to
Scott, and apparently didn't think they had
done anything wrong.
"At the end of the meeting, their leader turned to me and asked, 'What
about our raise?'"
Scott said the mine inspectors gave him the money to help them hire a
lobbyist. The House Rules
Committee reprimanded Scott for
"irresponsible actions." He stayed in office another six years.
Scott was never charged with any violation of the law. Under the
existing laws, he had
committed no crime. For Scott to be convicted of
bribery, prosecutors would have had to show he
accepted the money, and
the money influenced his actions.
Today's House clerk was brand-new to the Legislature in 1973. Greg Gray
case occurred today, he would probably been
"kicked out on his ear."
"There probably would be a criminal investigation," Gray
whole tenor of things has
changed for the better. Government is
more open now."
When he became governor in January 1989, Gaston Caperton called an
session before the regular session. First on his
agenda: a new governmental ethicslaw.
The ethicslaw promised to clean up state
government, including the Legislature. But
say more reforms are needed for it to live up to
Corruption led to ethicslaw
Several prominent corruption cases in the late 1980s helped lead to the
passage of the 1989
ethics bill, according to Robert "Chuck"
Chambers, the bill's sponsor and former Speaker of the
Two successive presidents of the state Senate were convicted on federal
corruption charges for
accepting money from lobbyists.
Former Senate President Larry Tucker pleaded guilty to accepting
$10,000 from lobbyist Sammy
D'Annunzio of Clarksburg. He reportedly
tried to return the money, but D'Annunzio was
cooperating with federal
investigators and wore a tape recording device during the meeting.
Tucker's predecessor as Senate president, Dan Tonkovich, also pleaded
guilty to extorting money
from gambling and insurance interests.
In 1988, former Gov. Arch Moore was already accused of extortion, mail
fraud and tax evasion,
charges that would earn him a prison term in
1990. At the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph
Savage said, "Let
there be no mistake. Arch Moore is a 'criminal.'"
"Political corruption helped create a demand for change," Chambers
Chambers had sponsored ethics bills for several years in the
Legislature, but made little
progress. In 1989, the West Virginia
Governmental Ethics Act passed with only one dissenting
"The passage of the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act
provides the state with one of the
most stringent sets of ethics
laws in the nation," Caperton wrote in 1989, "and sends a
unequivocal message: West Virginia will not tolerate dishonesty, influence
or conflicts of interest."
The act put into law a set of ethical standards for legislators
and everyone else in state
government. It required legislators
to disclose their personal financial interests. It told
register and say who employs them. It puts limits on the gifts and
legislators can accept from lobbyists.
But criticssay the ethicslaw left open
initiate investigations of wrongdoing. Lawmakers and lobbyists only need
some of their financial dealings.
Some say the paper bags of cash have been replaced by
contributions to ever-more-expensive
Hard to vote against friends
Before the law's passage, some legislators accepted gifts and meals
from lobbyists without a
second thought, Chambers
ethicslaw helped them recognize how being wined and