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Sad Legacy

Government corruption casts a long shadow

No doubt the federal investigation of Gov. Jim Justice’s relationship with state government was a burden on his mind. It may have distracted him from handling the public’s business, at least to an extent. And, almost undoubtedly, it cost him some money.

Still, we have to disagree with one of his attorneys, George Terwilliger, who announced Tuesday the federal probe is over. “This never should have happened,” Terwilliger told reporters.

But this is West Virginia, where corruption among public officials is, sad to say, virtually a part of our culture. Need we remind anyone that two of the five justices of the state Supreme Court were found guilty of misusing their positions for public gain?

Justice’s business empire includes more than 90 different companies, some of them doing business with the state and affected by state policy. It was not unnatural for federal officials to look into whether Justice’s position as governor resulted in inappropriate benefits for his enterprises.

They found no wrongoing, Terwilliger, flanked by two other attorneys, announced Tuesday.

“The Justices are good people who strive to do the right things for the right reasons. They deserve to be free of the cloud that this investigation has put over them,” Terwilliger said.

That probe cost both the governor and others money, he added. It “cost people in private business their jobs when business partners pulled back upon hearing news of the investigation,” he added.

Let us hope that changes for the better, and soon.

Still, West Virginia’s record for public corruption wrongdoing by both local and state officials made the governor an obvious target. It was almost as if our state’s heritage requires investigations to prove a negative, that some public officials are not corrupt.

How sad is that?