PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia Republican Party is making political hay of the corruption charges from Mingo County.
GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas pointed out the criminal charges were levied against local Democratic officeholders in the Southern West Virginia county.
"We are saddened this week as a state by the alleged misdeeds of incumbent Democrat politicians again in Southern West Virginia," Lucas said. "From discount snow tires to taking the civil rights of innocent citizens, the charges in Mingo County are a profoundly sad report of the harm of 80 years of one-party rule."
In separate indictments announced hours apart on Thursday, federal prosecutors said Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, who was suspended, was charged with two counts of conspiracy and that County Commissioner Dave Baisden was charged with extortion.
Thornsbury, whose law license also was suspended, is accused of using his position to manipulate the legal system to frame a romantic rival. Prosecutors said the man didn't commit the crimes.
While not charged, West Virginia State Police Trooper Brandon Moore Thursday was placed on administrative leave on allegations he was involved in helping Thornbury frame the innocent man. Brandon is the 2009 Trooper of the Year. Baisden also was charged with abusing public office by trying to buy tires at government discount for his personal vehicle from a supplier whose contract was terminated upon refusing to sell the tires.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Lucas said.
"Without checks and balances in to single-party Democrat government, this state has suffered in its economy and education and population," he said.
"In 2014, statewide, Republicans will give West Virginia a powerful choice, a better chance at the future our children deserve," Lucas said. "We will ask your vote and we will earn it by treating government as a sacred trust with the citizens, not a chance to steal everything that isn't bolted down. Corruption and vote fraud must stop now, for Southern West Virginia and all of us."