Associated Press Published

Report: Governor's Mansion Has Hosted 7 Events this Year

Governors Mansion

The Governor’s Mansion in West Virginia has hosted seven private receptions, luncheons or dinners since Jan. 1, according to a newspaper report.

That works out to one event every 25 days so far this year, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

Most of the events were held during the legislative session, according to the newspaper, which obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.

It says only two events have occurred since February, and those were within a three-day period recently.

Gov. Jim Justice has defended his refusal to live at the Governor’s Mansion, telling reporters recently that the mansion is “really busy” hosting receptions, luncheons, dinners and tours in his absence.

The governor argues he’s saving the state money by not living in the mansion. Justice has sometimes commuted to the Capitol from his home in Lewisburg.

Legislators from both political parties have raised concerns on the topic. Justice has dismissed the complaints as political posturing, saying modern technology keeps him apprised of everything happening at the Capitol.

During a recent news conference, Justice said mansion employees — including two chefs and two housekeepers — were kept busy hosting paid events under a new policy adopted by his administration.

Documents obtained from the governor’s office show that the Governor’s Mansion has hosted seven private events since Jan. 1, the newspaper said.

The events were:

— Feb. 10: A West Virginia Music Hall of Fame reception.

— Feb. 12: An Independent Insurance Agents of West Virginia reception. A hand-written notation states $2,718.50 was paid. (The document misidentifies the group as the IAWV, rather than the IIAWV.)

— Feb. 13: A luncheon for Marshall University men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni, $60.

— Feb. 27: A reception for Mercer County Day at the Legislature.

—Feb. 28: A dinner for the United Telecommunications and Energy Coalition, $1,390. The group represents electric, natural gas, solid waste, telecommunications and water utilities. Members include First Energy, Frontier Communications, Verizon, West Virginia-American Water, Waste Management Inc., Appalachian Power, AT&T, Columbia Pipeline Group, Dominion Energy and EQT Corp.

—June 5: An International Public Management Association dinner, $1,390.

—June 7: A Charleston Pilot Club event.

The West Virginia Beverage Association, which represents the soft drink industry, reserved the mansion for a luncheon on Feb. 21 but canceled. The group paid a $450 cancellation fee.

The list did not include a “teacher recognition” event in April that a reporter was told was private but was attended by the state schools superintendent and state school board members.

The response also mentioned three events that were held in 2017 but weren’t paid for until 2018: two dinners for “Moody’s” totaling $159.81 on Aug. 29; an event for the Charleston and Charleston Vandalia Rotary clubs on Dec. 6 that totaled $3,172.50; and a Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation event on Dec. 14 that totaled $1,350.