MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

West Virginia audit report questions Supreme Court's use of state vehicles

Photo shows two vehicles that were driven by West Virginia Supreme Court justices. The director of the Post Audits Commission told lawmakers Monday that the West Virginia Supreme Court did not follow federal and state tax laws pertaining to vehicle use, and two of the justices used state vehicles for personal use. (WCHS/WVAH)

The director of the Post Audits Commission told lawmakers Monday that the West Virginia Supreme Court did not follow federal and state tax laws pertaining to vehicle use, and two of the justices used state vehicles for personal use.

Denny Rhodes, director of the Post Audits Commission, shared the results of an audit of the high court’s use of the state’s vehicle fleet that was spurred by a series of Eyewitness News iTeam investigative reports about questionable spending, including the purchase of a $32,000 couch.

The iTeam investigative stories found the Supreme Court spent thousands of dollars on office renovations and catered lunches. Voters will decide in the fall whether the Legislature should have oversight of the Supreme Court’s budget.

In the audit of vehicle use, Justice Menis Ketchum was found to have filled up his state car in southwestern Virginia. Ketchum said those trips may have been for golf outings, and he reimbursed the state for five trips.

Rhodes said when Ketchum stopped using state vehicles and stated reporting mileage to be reimbursed at 15 cents a mile. Ketchum had to repay the state $249 he improperly asked for mileage, Rhodes said.

Ketchum also had to reimburse the state for six trips when he claimed mileage but actually used a state vehicle for those trips.

Meanwhile, Rhodes detailed how Justice Allen Loughry’s used vehicles, including rental cars when he traveled for conferences. The audit found he used the vehicles for personal use because of the mileage he drove.

A calendar from the legislative auditor’s report showing Loughry’s state vehicle use indicated he failed to provide a destination or a description or a need for the vehicle.

Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said Loughry never responded verbally when asked for a response.

“Justice Loughry was provided an opportunity,” Allred said. “He just never responded to us.”

In another matter, Rhodes said Loughry’s use of a historic Cass Gilbert desk at his home may constitute an ethics violation. The desk has been appraised at $42,000. Rhodes said the state Ethics Commission has been notified.

Rhodes said the Legislative Auditor’s Office audit of the state Supreme Court continues, looking at other justice travel, P-Card purchases and a review of court inventory.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman is responding to the audit, saying a lot of good will come out of the report. She said a lot of tighter policies and better record keeping have been instituted. The Supreme Court has joined the state’s vehicle system that requires detailed information about how vehicles are being used.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending