If West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry has an ounce of honor and humility left in his being, he will spare us all the spectacle of the regurgitation of the purported sins of yet another public official drunk on his own power, offer up his resignation from the court and head back to a private life.
At one time the state’s chief justice, Loughry has been accused of a laundry list of ethical lapses, bald-faced lying and the lifting of office furniture and equipment for his home. (Nothing quite like living large on the taxpayer’s dime.)
In a state known for its colorful if not shady characters and political corruption, the justice has already written an inglorious chapter in this ignominious tome. Now, he should allow the state’s highest court to start its healing from the damage he has brought to its integrity and independence.
Justice Loughry, please resign. Now.
A commission last week recommended Loughry’s immediate suspension over allegations of repeatedly lying and using his public office for personal gain. On Friday, Loughry was temporarily suspended without pay.
And that’s just for starters. The justice faces a 32-count complaint filed by the state Judicial Investigation Commission, which stated – in perhaps the understatement of the year – that there is probable cause to believe Loughry violated judicial codes of conduct.
According to the complaint, and as reported by the state’s media earlier this year, here are the highlights of Loughry’s alleged transgressions and ethical lapses:
● He had an expensive desk moved from his law clerk’s office at the Capitol to his home without permission or knowledge of the other justices in 2012.
● In a show either of atonement or embarrassment from having been caught red-handed, he returned the desk last November, but he also moved a leather couch from his state office to his home.
● He had court computers installed in his home for personal use by himself, his wife and son.
● Loughry tried to hide behind his own lies. In a news release from the court, Loughry said it was a long-standing practice for justices to establish a home office with court-provided equipment. Not true. There is no written policy concerning a home office.
● Loughry “made false statements with the deliberate attempt to deceive” concerning his involvement in the design and renovation of his office.
● Loughry has denied – time and again – involvement in the office renovations, including during an appearance before a House committee in January. To the contrary, court records show he played a major role.
● Loughry improperly used a state vehicle for personal reasons and failing to list – as required – all destinations.
As reported by The Associated Press, on one of the trips in December 2013, Loughry’s personal calendar had him attending a West Virginia University basketball game in Morgantown.
When the court’s director of security was asked to round up information on court car usage, he said the “only person we can recall that failed to provide a destination when asked was Justice Loughry.”
● He did not tell other justices about a federal subpoena served on the Supreme Court in December, even though it may have sought items specific to one or more of the court’s members.
In spite of the suspension, we would prefer that he take the immediate exit.
Resign now, Justice Loughry. Our citizens deserve honorable and honest public servants. You, sir, are neither.