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Senate President Craig Blair Faces Ethics Probe for Alleged Over Charging of Work Time and Travel Expenses

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WV Senate President Craig Blair receives Ethics Complaint

A state ethics complaint has surfaced since WV Statewide News first reported questions regarding expense payments to State Senate President Craig Blair in March.

The complaint, anonymously delivered to wvstatewide.com, is based on allegations originally made by State Senator Robert Karnes, a Randolph County Republican.

In March, Karnes alleged that Blair was padding his $20,000 legislative salary with expense and reimbursement payments.

Discussion of Karnes’ charges that Blair was pushing a pay raise bill that might bring his annual state income close to $200,000 triggered the complaint.

“Senate President Craig Blair makes exhaustive use of ‘duty days,’” Karnes said in March. “to the extent that in 2022 he received over $65,000 in pay plus at least $35,000 in expense money, totaling over $100,000 for a $20,000 per year job. In total, he claimed to have worked more than five days per week, 52 weeks per year.”

Discussions of Karnes’ allegations on The Tom Roten Morning Show, as well as coverage here prompted local Kenova resident Lance Schultz to file the complaint.

Officials of the Ethics Commission are prohibited from confirming or discussing an existing complaint, according to Executive Director Kim Weber.

But Schultz acknowledged the filing in a phone interview with wvstatewide.com.

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Schultz said he became concerned and decided it was his “duty” to file the charges.

“I’ve learned some things along the way,” he said. “Apparently state employees just write an alleged expense down, get paid for it, and never have to prove it’s legitimate. I think someone should challenge that and I am.”

Asked about the complaint, Karnes said he “wants to see Craig Blair’s corruption exposed.” Blair is also a Republican.

Karnes added, “Blair says he drove back and forth from the Eastern Panhandle more times during legislative sessions than is possible.”

Schultz says mileage reimbursements particularly bothered him. 

“I remember what they did to (former state Supreme Court Justice) Menis Ketchum,” he said. “They forced him to resign over mileage reimbursements.”

The complaint says the number of “duty days” claimed by Blair exceeds the actual number of “business days” in the appropriate time period.

“The Review Board has made an initial determination that the allegations may, taken as true, constitute violations of the Ethics Act …. The Review Board will now investigate to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred which may subject you to administrative sanctions by the Commission, criminal prosecution by the state, and/or civil liability.” 

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Blair has 30 days to file a written response although he is not required to do so. He can also give an oral response to the Commission but that is not required either.

Blair, who is expected to be a candidate for re-election in 2024, may be granted a continuance if he is a candidate while the complaint is still pending.

“I plan to pursue it,” Schultz said. “I’ll call them on May 27 (30 days from when Blair was notified) to see what the status is.”

This is a developing story that will be updated as events warrant).


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  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state. View all posts

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

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