Busy day in the wonderful world of West Virginia politics. Let’s recap:
Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, is expected to swap parties in order to battle U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va, for a spot in Congress. As it turns out, Jenkins donated $500 to Rahall’s 2010 campaign, according to federal election documents.
Rahall’s campaign committee gave $2,000 to Jenkin’s campaign in late 2009, of which Jenkins gave back $1,000. It’s easier for a Democrat to justify giving money to a fellow Democrat than a Dem-turned-GOP contribution to a potential opponent.
Monday, Jenkins gave this explanation:
“This contribution was two election cycles ago. I did not make a contribution to his campaign in 2012, which would be a more current reflection of my view of his performance in Congress,” Jenkins said.
A Rahall spokesman didn’t call me back, but here’s what the congressman told political website Politico.com recently about a potential Jenkins switch:
“I’m not going to run away from those that brought me to the dance and renounce my party because I disagree with our president,” Rahall told the publication. “But I’ve dealt with traitors before, and I’ll deal with traitors again.”
He’s presumably referencing Jenkins and Elliot “Spike” Maynard, the former Democratic state Supreme Court justice who crossed the political divide to unsuccessfully challenge Rahall in 2010.
There might be a communication divide in the office of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. About one month before Morrisey sent questions to West Virginia’s two clinics that perform abortions, an assistant Attorney General answered questions about state abortion regulations for federal lawmakers.
Beth Ryan, a spokeswoman for Morrisey, said the AG didn’t know about Assistant AG William Jones‘ response to a U.S. Committee until after he sent letters to the Charleston clinics.
“While Mr. Jones is technically still an employee of the Attorney General’s office, at that time he was on loan to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources as ‘interim general counsel.’ As such, he was reporting day to day to DHHR personnel on this matter instead of to senior staff in our office,” Ryan said in a prepared statement.
Among other statements, Jones said abortions, like other surgical procedures, are “are conducted in accordance with the existing medical standard of care for such procedures.” Morrisey call for a review of abortion regulations in the state drew ire and support from both sides of the charged debate.
When West Virginia state Democrats announced their plan to go to Washington, D.C. last week, the goal to talk coal was the only concrete detail they made available. Monday, they announced they will meet Thursday at the White House with new EPA head Gina McCarthy and “senior advisers” to President Barack Obama.
State party Chairman Larry Puccio was very excited about the news. He said he didn’t know with whom the group would meet until Monday, and he thinks the announced attendees means the administration is taking the group seriously.
We’ll see whether any serious results come from the visit.
Lastly, a potential pick to take the House seat vacated by ex-Delegate Josh Stowers pulled her name from consideration.
Wendy Elswick was nominated by the local Democratic executive committee as one of three names Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin could choose from to take over the House seat representing District 22 (parts of Boone, Lincoln and Logan counties).
Elswick is embroiled in a legal controversy. The lawyer disciplinary board believes Elswick, while working as a public defender in the mid-2000s, elicited statements she knew to be false from a convicted serial killer that helped her own client. The board also alleges she engaged in an inappropriate pen-pal relationship with the Texas killer.
They want her law license to be revoked for at least three years. Elswick denies the charges. The case is supposed to go before the state Supreme Court in September.
Friday, Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said Elswick had sent the governor a letter asking her name be withdrawn from consideration.
Elswick now works as an assistant Attorney General within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau of Behavioral Health.
“The Office of the Attorney General is withholding comment on this matter while it is going through the appeals process. In general, the Office has a policy to not comment on personnel matters,” AG spokeswoman Beth Ryan said in an email.
Look for plenty of other political news and updates in the next 24 hours. As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to contact me (email@example.com or 304-348-4843) with any tips, questions or concerns.