CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS)- “The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” asked the committee clerk.
“I do,” said Chief Justice Allen Loughry.
In an ironic twist, West Virginia’s Chief Justice was called to give testimony, before the House Finance committee. At issue, tens of thousands of dollars in controversial expenditures by the court for everything from lavish furniture to office renovations. The public and many lawmakers are outraged:
“Clearly excessive spending on furniture for individual offices is not appropriate, and I think that the Court is saying that those expenditures were not appropriate,” said Del. Larry Rowe, (D) Kanawha – Finance Committee.
The Chief Justice said building renovations were necessary for safety and historic preservation of the Capitol, but conceded some of the furniture purchases were over the top.
“The Court has received significant negative press during the past couple of months regarding some isolated, but obviously inappropriate purchases… And these expenditures are indefensible and they are insensitive to all West Virginians,” said Chief Justice Allen Loughry, West Virginia Supreme Court.
Despite that, many in the Legislature now want to take control of the Judiciary’s budget.
“Well there clearly seems to be progress towards more oversight and more control by the legislative branch. That is the Constitutional Amendment,” said Del. Daryl Cowles, (R) Morgan – Majority Leader.
The Chief Justice disagrees, saying the Courts should remain independent.
“This provision prevents Legislative interference with the Judiciary and preserves the check and balances by protecting against retribution,” said Chief Justice Allen Loughry, West Virginia Supreme Court.
“In light of all the criticism, the Chief Justice now says new measures are in place to prevent any kind of excessive expenditures here, ever happening again,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.