West Virginia governor’s tax records subpoenaed by feds
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal investigation of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has widened to include a range of tax documents on the governor’s expansive business portfolio, according to a subpoena sent to his administration last month.
The federal grand jury subpoena that the state Revenue Department released Friday asks for communications, meeting records and tax documents involving the state and any of the roughly 100 private business interests held by the Republican governor.
Last year, Justice held a press conference with revenue officials to say he resolved a series of state tax disputes that had long followed his companies. Officials said the governor wasn’t involved in resolving the debts and would not say how much money was paid.
Prosecutors are largely targeting records from 2010 to 2016, before Justice took office in 2017. But they also want documents relating to last year’s announcement that the governor’s tax debts had been cleared.
The subpoena is the second such document to become public in less than a month.
A separate federal grand jury subpoena sent to the state commerce department sought contracts, communications and financial records from the state relating to a posh resort owned by the governor, its annual PGA golf tournament and the tournament’s financial arm.
The state previously sponsored the golf tournament at The Greenbrier resort, but Justice said he ordered the arrangement to stop after taking office in 2017 because he didn’t want any perception of impropriety.
After that subpoena became public in early April, the governor said he was cooperating with the investigation.
“I don’t have anything whatsoever to hide,” the governor told reporters then. “Anything you’re going to find around me is going to center around — there’s some mistakes, naturally, along the way. But anything you’re going to find around me is going to be goodness and it’s going to be the right thing.”
He has since declined to elaborate much on the status of the investigation.
“When it really boils right down to it, I’d love to just go off and tell you every little thing that I know about anything and everything, but I just can’t. I just can’t,” Justice said Thursday when asked about the investigation.
Both subpoenas were requested by the same Department of Justice trial attorney.
Butch Antolini, the governor’s spokesman, did not return a voicemail and an email seeking comment Friday. A lawyer for Justice’s companies didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Justice has been reported to be the richest man in West Virginia, with a fortune estimated at more than $1 billion by Forbes magazine and a profusion of coal and agricultural interests.
The existence of the subpoenas was first reported by MetroNews.