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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Allen Loughry Has Plan to Clean Out Stables of Mountain State Politics: Good Luck!

Posted by kinchendavid on July 24, 2006

By David M. Kinchen

Hinton, WV  – Allen H. Loughry II is a heck of a lot more optimistic about reforming one of the most politically corrupt states – West Virginia – than I am. I think bringing peace to the Middle East will happen before the rotten-to-the-core structure of West Virginia politics is cleaned up

I’ve just reviewed his marvelous book, “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide” (check the archives for my review; it’s also posted on http://www.amazon.com) and it makes me even more pessimistic.

As I said in the review, the book destroyed my belief that my home state of Illinois was the most corrupt in the nation. West Virginia and Louisiana take the top prizes; it may even be a dead heat between the Mountain State and the Bayou State.

Loughry, 35, explained his reasons for spending about 10 years researching and writing the comprehensive — 658 pages, extensive notes and documentation, plenty of photographs and an index that will be the first thing many readers will turn to — history of vote buying and corruption in the Mountain State in a long telephone conversation with me. Basically, he wants true reform in the state, through The Loughry Plan to Reform West Virginia Politics. A free printable copy of the entire contract can be obtained through Loughry’s web site: http://www.ReformWV.com

Here’s a quick look at the Loughry Plan, which consists of 50 specific ways to make WV’s political system better (we certainly can’t get any worse, can we?). Loughry, currently a law clerk to West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Spike Maynard, will be spending much of his time during this campaign season asking candidates to agree – by signing a contract – to his reform plan, which includes, but isn’t limited to the following:

* Support Legislation requiring that “None of the Above” be included as a voting choice on every West Virginia General Election Ballot.

* Support legislation that takes away State pension benefits from any politician who is convicted of corruption.

* Ban the purchase and distribution of state-paid trinkets.

* Support legislation placing restrictions on the Governor’s Contingency Fund.

* A lifetime ban on running for office for individuals who have been convicted of a felony.

* Reform of the state’s ethics laws.

* Outlaw the practice of paying money to be placed on political slates used to buy votes.

As I said, check his web site – http://www.ReformWV.com – for the complete contract.

In our conversation, which was interrupted briefly by a helicopter flying over his Charleston house (I asked him if it belonged to Mark Hrutkay!) I argued that the problem of corruption is deeply embedded in the state and suggested term limits for state legislators – I would also like them for members of Congress – and a ban on lawyers and teachers serving in the State Senate or House of Delegates. Teachers are essentially state employees, who are banned from serving in the Legislature. Lawyers are officers of the court – the Judicial branch – and should be banned from serving in the Legislature on the grounds of conflict of interest. Plus I don’t care much for lawyers!

Many of the felons cited in Loughry’s book are members of the legal profession. Quite a few of them have petitioned to get their law licenses back, most notably convicted and imprisoned felon Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., whose petition was rejected by the State Supreme Court of Appeals. Many of the other petitioners – check Loughry’s book for details – were successful, indicating that corruption is prevalent in all three branches of West Virginia government. The judicial branch has really flagrant examples, including a judge who bit off part of the nose of a defendant and another one who was a major league sexual harasser of women.

I also suggested the appointment of otherwise qualified and experienced non lawyers to the judicial branch; after all, they could hire lawyers like Loughry to help them with the legal issues. I don’t really expect this to happen, but I threw it out for comment.

Allen Loughry’s an idealistic, dedicated man and I wish him luck in his quest for reform. I would also suggest that his book be required reading for every high school and college student in West Virginia.

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