The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court saying Gov. Jim Justice has failed to comply with a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to release his official schedule and calendar from 2017 to the present. The suit demands the records be released.
David Bergstein, the DSCC communications director, said there are key reasons the U.S. Senate candidate cannot hide his work schedule, or lack thereof, from West Virginians.
“This has been an ongoing pattern with Justice, where there’s been media reporting about his lack of availability, how hard he’s working, whether he’s actually doing the job,” Bernstein said. “We believe that he needs to disclose these schedules and calendars.”
A DSCC press release on the lawsuit notes what the committee calls a key point from the lawsuit filing.
“The last time he produced such records — in 2019 — they showed that Justice ‘almost never meets with his Cabinet, is rarely at the capital and was largely missing at one of the most critical points of [the] year’s legislative session,’ the press release stated.
The press release provides links to show that in March and April the DSCC filed a FOIA request seeking copies of records containing scheduled official meetings involving Justice, his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and his general counsel from January 2017 to the present.
Justice General Counsel J. Berkeley Bentley “denied the request in full, citing out of state precedent and exceptions in West Virginia law which clearly do not apply to the materials sought.”
Justice will face U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat.
“There is already a very nasty and contentious primary fight happening between Justice and Mooney,” Bergstein said. “This may be an area which becomes a conversation in that primary campaign between those two Republican opponents, but they’re already really going after each other. And we’re sure that the Justice work schedule will receive further scrutiny during the primary.”
The DSCC works to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate.
Justice’s office said it has no comment on the lawsuit at this time.