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Consequences?

Lottery director gets just a slap on the wrist

More than a year after Alan Larrick resigned as West Virginia Lottery Commission director, it finally is official: Larrick broke the law by practicing law at the same time he was being paid as a state official.

That was common knowledge in Charleston at the time, however.

Larrick headed the lottery commission as preparations were being made for legalized wagering on sports. He stepped down from his job on Aug. 31, 2018.

For some time before that, it was known — and had been reported — that Larrick was not playing by the rules. State law prohibited him from engaging in the private practice of law while drawing a salary as lottery commission director, yet Larrick was doing just that.

A few days ago — finally — the state Lawyer Disciplinary Board formally admonished Larrick for his action. It found he “knowingly engaged in the practice of law while serving and receiving a state funded salary as director of the West Virginia Lottery Commission, in violation of state law.”

But the board did nothing to discipline Larrick, noting that when he resigned as lottery director, he no longer was in violation of state law.

That does not even rise to the level of a slap on the wrist. The disciplinary board’s position seems to be that Larrick broke the law, but is not doing so now, so what’s the harm?

The harm is that if there are no consequences for corruption in government, there is no reason for public officials to avoid engaging in it.

In comparison to misdeeds by some officials — former state Supreme Court justices Allen Loughry and Menis Ketchum come to mind — Larrick’s misbehavior may be mild. Still, he did break the law.

Until the “go and sin no more” attitude about corruption ends, expect more government officials to thumb their noses at the law.