No Harm Done?

Lottery director broke the law

In announcing the resignation of West Virginia Lottery Director Alan Larrick last week, Gov. Jim Justice had this to say in his press release: “There is no question he has done an excellent job and he will be missed.”

Perhaps so. After being appointed to the position after Justice took office last year, Larrick seems to have kept the money rolling in. That is a good thing, of course; Justice and legislators rely on legalized gambling for between $450 million and $500 million a year to balance the state budget.

Also during his tenure, Larrick presided over an addition to the legalized gambling menu — betting on sports. The first bets were placed last weekend.

Just one problem: Larrick was breaking the law each and every day of his tenure at the helm of the lottery.

State law stipulates that the lottery director “serves on a full-time basis and may not be engaged in any other profession or occupation.”

Yet Larrick, an attorney, maintained his law practice in Beckley throughout his time at the lottery.

No harm done? Perhaps Larrick devoted to his lottery job all the time necessary to do it well. Perhaps he served the people of West Virginia.

But the fact remains that he was a state official in clear violation of state law.

Later this month, state senators will begin the difficult task of trying state Supreme Court justices who were impeached by the House of Delegates. One justice, Menis Ketchum, resigned before he could be impeached.

Ketchum’s offense was using a state car a few times to travel to a golf course in Virginia, and paying for gasoline with a state credit card. In addition, he failed to report on his income tax return that he had use of a state car, which is considered a taxable benefit.

Ketchum says he is refiling his returns and paying taxes he missed the first time around. He has reimbursed the state for use of the car and credit card.

So, no harm done?

But Ketchum broke the law.

So did Larrick.

Until and unless complying with the law is demanded of our state officials — all the time and every time — it will be no wonder West Virginia is a nest of government corruption.