West Virginia House Judiciary Committee resumes review of evidence in impeachment probe

Sue Racer Troy, chief financial officer for the court's financial division, testifies Thursday before the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee. (West Virginia Public Broadcasting)

After a week off, the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee took the long-awaited tour Monday of the justices’ offices at the West Virginia Supreme Court and then resumed reviewing evidence in possible impeachment proceedings.

Eyewitness News Reporter Kenny Bass breaks down each of the Supreme Court Justice's chambers:

The House panel resumed its review of evidence after taking a recess. The committee went into executive session about 5:20 p.m. Chairman John Shott said he does not believe the committee will be taking any votes Monday and will resume its review of evidence on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, committee members toured the justices' private chambers along with three members of the media including a print reporter, radio reporter and a TV photographer. Watch a video of their tour below.

Later, they resumed their meeting, calling Sue Racer Troy, chief financial officer of the court’s finance division as the first witness. Troy questions about court lunches, vehicle use by justices, IRS compliance and use of independent contractors.

View the full morning session of the House panel's Supreme Court investigation.

Troy testified about the notebook of construction and furniture costs compiled by the court for Eyewitness News iTeam Lead Investigation Reporter Kennie Bass when he launched an investigation into court spending.

Troy said Justice Allen Loughry did not ask her to remove any items from the book, including architectural fees.

On another matter, Troy testified that no one inside the court would know what the cost of renovating each justice's chamber was because before Bass, Eyewitness News's lead ITeam investigative reporter, had ever asked.

In 2015, Troy said, then-Chief Justice Margaret Workman requested that the administrative director develop a policy on the use of purchase cards. She said then-court administrator Steve Canterbury told Troy not to worry about it. When asked whether she believed Canterbury was “bucking” Workman on it, Racer said in her opinion, “yes.”

Later, when Gary Johnson took over as court administrator some policies were implemented in 2017, including a travel policy.

Troy was questioned about how much the justices knew about the cost of the renovations in their offices. She said she did not believe they were aware.

"No one ever asked me to tally it up, so I don't see how they could know how much they cost since they never saw the invoices," she said.

After a lunch recess, Troy continued her testimony before the committee. She says the book given to Bass, the lead investigative reporter for the Eyewitness News iTeam, with costs for renovations was never meant to be audited and that she knew additional invoices would be discovered.

Until the tour of the Supreme Court Monday, Bass and photojournalist Larry Clark were the only members of the media allowed inside the private chambers.

The tour provided committee members an opportunity to see some of the more than $3.7 million in renovations at the Supreme Court that were first revealed in a November 2017 Eyewitness News ITeam investigative story. Some of those renovations that were uncovered included the now infamous $32,000 couch and $7,500 custom medallion in suspended Justice Allen Loughry’s chambers.

Since that story aired, the court has been rocked by controversy. Loughry is facing a 23-count federal indictment that accuses him of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and making false statements to the FBI. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Loughry also faces allegations that he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Meanwhile, former justice Menis Ketchum resigned and retired from the court at the end of the business day on July 27. Federal prosecutors announced that Ketchum has agreed to plead guilty in an information to one count of wire fraud. The House Judiciary Committee said it will not consider evidence against Ketchum since he was leaving office.

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