Jack Walker Published

Two Jefferson County Commissioners Charged For Skipping Months of Meetings As Protest

Signs posted to a bulletin board outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse display the county seal, a sign, a sign on meeting times and a sign on the location of the meeting room within the building.
The Jefferson County Commission meets in the basement of the Charles Town Library on Tuesday mornings.
Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Thursday, March 14 at 10:45 a.m.

Two members of the Jefferson County Commission were charged with 42 misdemeanor offenses in the Jefferson County Magistrate Court Tuesday.

From Sept. 7 to Nov. 21, Commissioners Jennifer Krouse and Tricia Jackson refused to attend seven commission meetings while still collecting their salaries. The commissioners are paid $45,000 annually, plus benefits.

Krouse and Jackson, both Republicans, said their absence was in protest of commission vacancy proceedings because they were dissatisfied with the candidates eligible.

In an August Facebook post, Krouse said that the commission had not yet been provided with “actual conservatives” to review, and that many elected Republicans in West Virginia are “incompetent, self-interested, closeted liberals, or some combination thereof,” MetroNews previously reported.

Krouse and Jackson both declined to comment on the charges, and noted in separate emails to West Virginia Public Broadcasting Wednesday that they are working to retain legal counsel.

In a follow-up email Thursday, Krouse described the charges as “a travesty” and “un-American.” She wrote that members of the “the political establishment of Jefferson County” are using the legal system “to persecute their political opponents.”

The Jefferson County Courthouse on a partially cloudy day. It has four long columns and an American flag out front.
Jefferson County Commissioners Jennifer Krouse and Tricia Jackson were charged with 42 misdemeanors in the Jefferson County Magistrate Court Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“If this injustice is allowed to stand here, in West Virginia, our republic is lost and we will be no better than the third-world dictatorships we used to fight against,” she wrote. “I believe anyone running for state, local or federal office in West Virginia needs to be vigorously questioned on where they stand regarding turning honest disagreement into a criminal offense.”

The West Virginia State Police (WVSP) was asked to investigate Krouse and Jackson in January.

During the commissioners’ absence, the commission was unable to hire 911 dispatchers, finalize a $150,000 grant for victim advocates and apply for a $50,000 grant to improve the county courthouse, the Associated Press reported.

In response to the commissioners’ protest, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill this year tightening vacancy protocols.

In a March 12 press release, WVSP said that the commissioners were charged with failure to perform their duties, conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor against the state and several other charges.

The commissioners were arrested following a commission meeting Tuesday morning. They were arraigned on a $42,000 bond, which has since been posted.

**Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a comment from Jefferson County Commissioner Jennifer Krouse.