Corruption

Loughry, Ketchum two different stories

Corruption seems to be such an integral part of government in West Virginia that punishing those caught at it is vital to deter others from engaging in criminal acts.

Federal Judge John Copenhaver’s action in sentencing former state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry to two years in prison was appropriate for that reason.

But what of another former justice, Menis Ketchum, who is to be sentenced Feb. 27?

Loughry broke numerous laws, lied in an attempt to escape justice, and has expressed no remorse for his misdeeds.

Ketchum, on the other hand, was guilty of relatively minor crimes, to which he pleaded guilty. He used an official car for personal trips, paying for the gasoline with a state credit card. The total cost to taxpayers was about $749, which Ketchum reimbursed.

In fact, as prosecutors agree, Ketchum expressed remorse and began trying to rectify the situation before the federal investigation was launched. He then resigned from the court and pleaded guilty to charges against him.

Examples need to be made of people like Loughry. But Ketchum is a very different story.

It is different enough that Judge Copenhaver should consider leaving a prison term out of the punishment he decides upon for Ketchum.

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With all the accusations of “voter suppression” being made against Republicans, it is a real pleasure to note that West Virginia’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Mac Warner, seems to be doing all he can to increase the number of people who cast ballots.

In the process, Warner, a Republican, is nationally recognized for leadership in election security.

Last year, Warner’s office oversaw a pilot project to help those in the military and civilians working overseas participate in elections. Under existing systems, that can be difficult.

But Warner made it easy. Those overseas and participating in his program cast ballots through a special, secure smartphone application. And the trial run was a success — the first in the nation.

Warner said last week he hopes to offer the option during the 2020 elections.

Elections secured against tampering, combined with initiatives like Warner’s to sign up new voters and make it easier to cast ballots sound like a winning combination to us.

Dare we say it? Yes: West Virginia seems to be leading the way on this one.

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