CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Sen. Eric Tarr (R-Putnam; Senate Finance Chair) is asking the Office of the Inspector General to look into possible misuse of COVID-19 relief funds by Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV).
According to a letter from Sen. Tarr, he is asking the office to look into whether or not Gov. Justice “grossly misappropriated, and misused” $28,375,985.43 of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
The letter says the request comes from a Feb. 3 West Virginia State Senate Finance Committee hearing with the Governor’s Chief Counsel Berkely Bentley about “a suspicious transfer of funds to a Governor’s discretionary account.” It says the Governor said the transfer was for reimbursement of COVID-19-related expenses within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Sen. Tarr told 13 News in February that Auditor J.B. McCuskey believed it to be very unusual.
Once the remaining CARES Act funds went into the discretionary account, an additional $280,721 was transferred to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Then $10 million was donated to Marshall University’s baseball facility for turning. Other expenses totaled $246,088 which includes payouts to the Do It for Baby Dog sweepstakes and a minibus for Appalachian Bible College.
The letter says more than $10,106,000 of the $28,375,985.43, “were not related to necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency.”
C.J. Harvey, Press Secretary for the Office of Governor Jim Justice, tells 13 News, “This letter is simply a regurgitation of old news. Unfortunately, Senator Tarr can’t let it go. The Governor’s Office firmly believes that all transactions involving the use of CARES Act funds were legal and appropriate. Decisions on the use of funds were made with the advice of legal counsel and two national CPA firms, including one who completed an independent audit and found no issues.”