CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state lawmaker wants a closer look at the spending controversy involving the state Supreme Court, specifically the actions of Chief Justice Allen Loughry.
Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) told fellow members of the House during Thursday’s floor session of his plans to introduce a resolution that would have the House Judiciary Committee investigate Loughry’s actions to determine if impeachment proceedings should take place.
“It is our responsibility to investigate whether we should move forward (with impeachment),” Pushkin said.
It’s been reported that Loughry spent $32,000 for a sectional sofa and $7,500 for a specially designed inlaid wooden floor in the shape of the state for his office at the capitol. State funds were also used to renovate the offices for the other justices. The Supreme Court has spent $3.7 million since 2009 on renovations–some of that money went to necessary maintenance. Loughry also used a couch and desk from the Court in his home office.
Pushkin said the controversy has caused an eroding of public trust and confidence in the judiciary.
Loughry has criticized the spending, placing the blame of former state Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury, calling him “a rogue employee.” Loughry argues Canterbury hid the true costs of the furnishings, adding that he fired Canterbury when the spending became apparent and launched an investigation into Canterbury’s tenure.
Canterbury counters that he was following the court’s directives.
Pushkin said it’s been blame shifting.
“He (Loughry) wants to blame it on the former administrator. He has taken no responsibility, no accountability for what’s gone on under his watch and in his office and in his home while he’s been chief justice of the Supreme Court,” Pushkin said.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate have discussed offering a constitutional amendment to voters that would bring the court system’s budget under the review of the legislature. Right now the legislature isn’t allowed to change the Supreme Court’s budget. There’s been no mention by leadership of getting behind any impeachment attempts.
The Supreme Court has its annual budget hearing before the House Finance Committee Friday morning.