Caroline MacGregor Published

Governor Defends Using CARES Money For MU Stadium

Gov. Jim Justice awards money to Marshall University for baseball stadium.
During his weekly briefing Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice defended his administration’s decision to use $10 million in CARES dollars to build a baseball stadium at Marshall University.
Courtesy Gov. Jim Justice

During his weekly briefing Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice said he had no regrets about his administration’s decision to use $10 million in CARES dollars to build a baseball stadium at Marshall University. 

The West Virginia Senate Finance Committee has launched an investigation into the administration’s spending of COVID-19 relief money, including money earmarked to benefit the Division of Corrections. 

“The only thing that I hate about this whole thing is just this, is people saying, ‘Well you know, he’s going to run for senate, and that’s why he is doing this,’” Justice said. “I mean really, really and truly, I mean look what we have accomplished since the day I walked in the door. Do you honest-to-goodness think I need anything else to be able to run for the senate, and why on earth would I want anything except more and more goodness for Marshall University, Huntington, the whole area. I mean absolutely, if there was a way to do it, absolutely I wanted to find a way to do it. In the CARES dollars that we administered here there was well over a billion dollars, and I think we handled those dollars correctly all the way through.”

The money for Marshall University’s baseball stadium was transferred to the governor’s Gifts, Grants and Donations Fund just before the federal deadline to allocate CARES money.

Justice defended his decision, saying CARES money was spent wisely as evidenced by West Virginia leading the nation in caring for the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

“We didn’t shut down all of our businesses and everything. We kept the state open for business,” he said. “We did the right thing, that you know, that I really believe if you’ve talked to the medical experts and everything, a catastrophe could have happened.”

Justice said his administration moved immediately when vaccines became available. 

“We knew this was attacking our elderly and we moved immediately to get shots in the arms of our elders.” 

Justice said he stands “rock solid” behind his administration, saying it’s not a one man show.

“This was a show of our people. We’re all together, our experts, the very best of the best of the best, you know, who stepped forward. At the end of the day, I’d really surprise you with what I thought is the best characteristic that I have. And that’s the ability to doubt myself. Because what I do is I check stuff. Then I double check stuff to make absolutely certain we’re doing the right thing. Nobody had a playbook. This was done very, very, very well. Only one can do something perfect. I’ll never be that. Literally this was done really good.”

The governor’s Chief of Staff Brian Abraham said early on in the pandemic the U.S. Department of Treasury “put out” the money for COVID-19 relief before they implemented any guidelines. 

“The governor was the one that came out and said, make sure we get the best of the best when it comes to experts who can guide us through this,” Abraham said.

Abraham said the Justice administration has been transparent and confirmed the legality of the move with accounting firm BDO and the law firm Bailey Glasser. “Our BDO folks have reached out and provided all this information since the senate met the other day. Again the governor demands we are transparent. And we did that here. And now we’re going to show the senators that and I’m sure they’ll understand once we provide it.”