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Gregory’s Web – February 25, 2024

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As has often been the case through the years, West Virginia earned more notoriety recently because of Mainstream Media’s evaluation that we are home to the most bizarre senior election official in the country.

This time, the left-wing national cabal found itself fascinated by comments from West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner.

The Secretary is also a candidate for Governor in the May Republican primary, and has regularly testified before Congress on election integrity.

To set the record straight, let me assure all President Donald Trump lovers that I share their belief that the 2020 presidential election was a farce.

Although MSM insists there is no proof of wrongdoing in that election, I beg to differ with them.

Aside from instances where bonafide witnesses have absolutely testified to election law violations and videos confirmed their claims, anecdotal evidence suggests that Democrat Joe Biden could not have beaten Republican Trump in 2020.

It defies logic to think Biden could possibly have gotten a record number of votes four years ago. All one had to do was count the crowds Trump drew and compare them with Biden’s.

Citizens vote when they are motivated. The repeated spectacle of thousands of roaring voters showing up for Trump rallies compared to a handful for Biden is one obvious example of who was motivated. It wasn’t Biden or his supporters.

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Even considering all of that, it is difficult to reach the conclusions Warner embraced at a recent annual gathering of Secretaries of State from around the country. Perhaps he knows more than we do.

At that session, the West Virginia SOS singled out various once-respected government agencies as villains in the 2020 battle for the White House.

According to NBC, Warner’s “peers said politics could be motivating his embrace of conspiracy theories.”

Well, he definitely embraced them.

NBC author Kevin Collier writes, “(At) this year’s conference, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner drew rare groans from the crowd.”

I can identify with that but the crowd groans for me were never that rare.

Collier says that during a question-and-answer “period of a cybersecurity panel, which included senior officials from the FBI and Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Warner stepped up to the mic.”

Most readers who follow politics know by now that is when Warner flatly said, “In October of 2020, the CIA lied to the American people on purpose and it was covered up by the FBI. We have our own federal agencies lying to the American people.”

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Well, Bullwinkle, if that’s true, we may have a problem. Good guys who lie may be a problem.

The panel dutifully thanked Warner and moved on to a different question, according to NBC.

This came after the Secretary, in December 2023, made similar claims about the Central Intelligence Agency.

Of course, in the more recent case, the NBC reporter entered the now-required MSM comment that Warner is advancing “a larger false conspiracy theory that government agencies such as the CIA had a hand in rigging the 2020 election.”

Ah yes, the obligatory inclusion of “false” in any idea or concept that is not aligned with MSM’s wildly liberal positions.

“The remarks have solidified him among his colleagues as the only sitting election director in the country to openly embrace the election denialism that former President Donald Trump has used to explain his 2020 loss,” Collier writes.

I suppose Collier has the right to reach any conclusion he chooses. It is still fascinating to see how far from a hint of fairness MSM must go to satisfy their masters.

Then Collier cites a more ominous conclusion by a UCLA law professor, no less. I don’t know about you but I’m not sold on the rational judgment of a UCLA law professor to begin with.

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“It is problematic when you have a chief election officer of a state embracing conspiracy theories that undermine people’s confidence in the election process for no good reason,” said Rick Hasen, the professor. 

“People should be able to look to their election and elected officials to provide them with truthful information and not to fan the flames of conspiracies,” Hasen added.

Well yes, except when the people have seen and heard with their own eyes and ears that corruption permeates the U.S. electoral process.

It’s also not difficult to see the political powers that are manipulating the American legal system.

Warner will win no MSM friends with his message. Then again, I’m confident he didn’t expect to.

Sometimes telling the truth makes an individual look as weird as Warner appears to his colleagues.

Being a 49-1 minority might not win Warner any national Secretary of State awards. In fact, those chances are pretty slim. Of

However, in this case, it might just be the smartest strategy a West Virginia Governor candidate could pursue.

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* * * * * *

It’s obvious, from every commercial airing to personal appearances, that all Republican candidates want to embrace Trump.

With 70% of the likely voters in his column, that all makes perfect sense.

I have to hand this to Warner: no other candidate has aligned with Trump election theories more than he has. 

Certainly, the professor is correct that Warner’s comments further light the fires of doubt in the current electoral process.

We must remember, however, that not all this doubt is promoted by Trump sympathizing politicians. Folks have seen proof with their own eyes.

* * * * * *

Although those who work to provide citizens with a light into the inner workings of government are seldom satisfied with the state’s transparency and Freedom of Information Act enforcement, I suppose the supermajority Republican State legislature is taking a small step in the right direction.

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Regular readers know I’ve called FOIA in West Virginia a “toothless tiger” because no agency has ever been given authority to enforce it.

So hypothetical Mayor John Doe of Boondock County can staff his entire police department with relatives and never have to worry about scrutiny.

If Mayor Doe simply ignores a citizen or media request for salaries of the whole Doe clan, nobody will step in to make him do it.

Attempts to bolster the law simply by placing somestate agency in charge of enforcing it have been rebuffed by Republicans too concerned with biblical purity to take the necessary time to assure transparency in government.

Last week, however, the GOP members managed to move forward a bill that would make the non-profit West Virginia First Foundation a bit more open in their conduct.

It is this group that is charged with allocating multiple millions of state dollars from court settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

House Bill 4593 would require the foundation to follow open meeting laws and FOIA.

At least, as noted earlier, it would require adherence to those laws. If the laws are enforced as they were when a Lincoln Public Service District customer FOIA’d employee salaries seven years ago, information may be a long time coming. 

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Believe me, that’s not the only time public officials ignore the FOIA law.

I’m still waiting for something more than the curt response I received from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey when I inquired about time allegedly worked by one of his staffers.

Summarized, Morrisey wrote that it would take some days to compile the information.

That was the last message I received on the subject.

Anyway, last week, members of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources unanimously advanced the current bill.

According to one summary, “This would mean meetings for the foundation’s board of directors would be posted publicly with adequate notice, and all meetings would be open to the public.”

I’ll repeat: maybe if somebody is actually authorized to enforce the law, that’s what it will do.

When the Lincoln PSD request was ignored all those years ago, I even contacted Public Service Commission Chairman Brooks McCabe on behalf of the customer.

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McCabe, who I always admired for his honesty and transparency, responded that the PSC had no obligation to enforce the FOIA.

The West Virginia First Foundation, an usual concept, got off to a rocky start last November. It appeared, at one point early on, that they intended to meet privately without media or public notice.

After a few reports about their first meeting, some members seemed to reluctantly announce it.

Interestingly enough, some of the early media stories mainly noted that Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey was heading the group.

Harvey was soon announcing that the group’s first choice for Executive Director was no longer being pursued. Most media outlets seemed puzzled by that development.

Harvey was obviously reluctant to discuss that development, citing personnel policy concerns.

I suppose things were going so slow in Jefferson, where Harvey was trying to get rid of two elected county commissioners, that he had plenty of time to lead the opioid financial giveaway.

It’s safe to say that the West Virginia First Foundation’s initial behavior caught the attention of state lawmakers.

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Now, we’ll sit back and see how properly these funds are distributed.

At least we all know that if political shenanigans get involved, a tough, by-the-book Prosecutor is on top of this ladder.

* * * * * *

Meanwhile back at the ranch …

Let’s also wait to see if Cabell County officials have settled the debate about election poll workers.

Warner’s Chief “Deak” Kersey convened a telephone conference call Friday designed to clear up any confusion that still existed.

Some participants said the meeting concluded with all parties involved satisfied. Others predicted more disagreement ahead.

We do know this (I think): March 5 is the date the county committees are supposed to submit names to County Clerk Scott Caserta. 

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He will then check them for compliance with applicable laws and forward them on if nothing is found amiss.

Only time will tell how this works out.

* * * * * *

Witnesses say Putnam Republican Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse was not well received by either side when she intervened in the handicapped parking issue at the capitol last week.

Crouse, who routinely declares her delegate position gives her tons of authority, is a cousin of Cheryl Hess Kump.

It was Kump who complained about handicapped parking spaces being “bagged off” for Senators on orders of Senate President Craig Blair.

Regardless, friends say Kump, wife of GOP Delegate Larry Kump, was not pleased when her cousin, Crouse, tried to “negotiate an agreement on Cheryl’s behalf.”

Likewise, those near Blair said the Senate leader was unhappy that a “member of the House (Crouse) was interfering in Senate business.”

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You just can’t please some people.

I probably haven’t mentioned it enough, but Crouse is most proud of her time as a “Hooters girl” 30+ years ago.

Judging from comments of those on both sides of the parking issue, she still knows how to make friends and influence people.

Krouse and crew like to comment that I am obsessed with her. However they tend not to comment about her antics that leaves a question mark on her representation of Putnam.

* * * * * *

Let’s start a rundown of all the legislative races we are covering this year.

As space is available, we will summarize where things currently stand.

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House of Delegates District One is a one-man show with only Republican incumbent Pat McGeehan running.

District Two finds Democrat Olivia Dowler unopposed. In November, she will face either Republican Michele Slates or GOP incumbent Mark Zatezalo.

The obvious favorite is Zatezalo.

The Third District features Democrat David Cantrell, unopposed in the primary. Incumbent Republican Jimmy Willis is likewise without opposition.

In the Fourth, Republicans Bill Flanigan and Jonathan Haught will battle with incumbent Diana Winzenreid in the GOP primary. Wizenreid has encountered the wrath of conservatives over a recent vote.

One of those rare birds, a Democrat incumbent, Shawn Fluharty, is unopposed in the Fifth District in May. Republican contender Thomas Salcovick is also without a primary opponent.

There’s two GOP candidates and no Democrats in District Six. Incumbent Jeff Stephens takes on Jacob Padlow in the Republican primary.

District Seven features incumbent Republican Charles Sheedy and Democrat Devon Tennant, both unopposed in May.

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Incumbent Republican David Kelly meets Dave Shelton in the District Eight GOP primary.

Republican incumbent, the hard-working Trenton Barnhart, has no opponents in District Nine.

Iconic Republican Bill Anderson is unopposed in the Tenth District.

Opponents allowed a filing deficiency by Bob Fehrenbacher to slide in 2022. He had not been a Republican sufficient time to run as their candidate. He won anyway.

Now he is unopposed for re-election in the 11th District.

District 12 shows only incumbent Republican Vernon Criss on the ballot.

Identified as either a peacemaker or potential combatant at a recent Charleston car show, Republican incumbent Scot Heckert has no candidate opponents in District 13.

District 14 incumbent Republican Dave Foggin is unopposed in the primary for re-election. Democrat Jim Marion has no opponents in May either.

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Incumbent Republican Martin Atkinson will square off in District 15 with Erica Moore in the primary. JuliAna Penfold is the lone Democrat running.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or Ron.gregory@wvstatewide.com

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  • Staff Writer

    From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting “Staff Writer” indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team.

From the WV Statewide News Team. Articles depicting "Staff Writer" indicate the content was prepared by several members of the news team.