Lawyers For Gov. Justice Say There Are No Charges In Federal Investigation
This story was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, to include the most up-to-date information on Justice's other ongoing legal affairs.
A criminal defense attorney representing West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced a federal investigation into his client’s annual golf charity was concluded earlier this week without any findings of wrongdoing.
George Terwilliger — a former acting U.S. Attorney General — said at a Tuesday news conference Justice and his family provided full cooperation to federal investigators looking into the governor’s hotel, the Greenbrier, with the West Virginia Department of Commerce and the state Department of Revenue.
A federal grand jury subpoenaed Justice on Tuesday, April 9.
The subpoenas were related to the Professional Golfers Association military tribute tournament that’s hosted at the Greenbrier resort, and how the governor financed it. It requested records from Justice, the state Department of Commerce and the state Department of Revenue from Jan. 1, 2014, through March 6, 2019.
While Terwilliger called Tuesday’s news “important,” he took the opportunity to elaborate on a “terrible toll the investigation has taken on many innocent people and innocent interests.”
“News of the investigation — even though no allegations of wrongdoing were ever made — was enough to cause sponsorship money to the golf tournament to dry up, which hurt the charitable goals of that considerable effort,” Terwilliger said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the investigation.
Justice is in the middle of a couple other legal affairs, both of which he’s working with Terwilliger to tackle.
In December, Terwilliger filed a writ of prohibition against a lawsuit regarding Justice’s out-of-capital residency. Justice is also facing federal civil actions over $4.7 million in unpaid fines and fees for mine safety and health violations against 23 of the family's coal companies. A hearing scheduled Tuesday in the case was cancelled.
In a document filed Tuesday afternoon, attorneys for nine coal companies owned by the Justice family asked the court to withdraw a motion to dismiss the case due to “ongoing settlement negotiations.”
The companies, which include Double Bonus Coal Company, Dynamic Energy, Inc., Frontier Coal Company, Inc., Justice Energy Company, Justice Highwall Mining, Inc., Keystone Services Industries, Inc., M&P Services, Inc., Nufac Mining Company, Inc., and Pay Car Mining Company, Inc., are just a portion of the 23 Justice companies federal prosecutors are perusing.
“Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s still tough to be involved in a federal investigation,” Terwilliger said. “It’s stressful, it’s expensive, just the existence of an investigation hurts your reputation.”
A spokesman from Gov. Jim Justice’s office said no state dollars were spent on Terwilliger’s legal fees related to the federal subpoenas.
Media were notified of Terwilliger’s press conference Tuesday morning by an advisory from Justice’s state-run office.
“The subpoenas involved state agencies and this is a matter of undeniable public interest that involves Governor Justice and his family,” the governor’s spokesman said.
Reporter Brittany Patterson contributed to this report.
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.