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State Auditor fires back at Baber lawsuit

By MATT COMBS

The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Days after being sued by Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, State Auditor John McCuskey has responded in a press release.

“On Monday, October 23, Bob Henry Baber, mayor of Richwood, filled a baseless and frivolous lawsuit against our office seeking to stop the ongoing investigation into the financial records of the City of Richwood,” McCuskey said.

The lawsuit, against the members of the City Council of Richwood, the City Recorder and the state auditor stems from an investigation into Baber’s use of the state issued P-card.

In September, Baber was placed on paid administrative leave from his duties as mayor, a move that he believes is illegal.

Baber told The Register-Herald in an earlier interview that he made his way to the Auditor’s Office in Charleston to self-report and seek guidance a day after being placed on leave.

In his suit, Baber is contending that the actions of the Auditor’s Office since that time have delayed the results of the investigation, further empowering the council to continue its path against him.

According to court documents, Baber is asking the court to compel the Auditor’s Office to complete its investigation and announce the results immediately.

“When my office conducts a financial investigation, we are first and foremost protecting the people’s money. That’s our primary objective,” McCuskey said in the release. “The State Auditor’s Office will not allow a public media stunt to distract us from any ongoing audit or investigation. All this does is cost the people of Richwood, and the State of West Virginia, both time and money.”

Under state code, misuse of a P-card is a felony punishable by jail time and a fine.

“Not withstanding Mr. Baber’s actions and comments, our office will continue to work diligently and efficiently to provide a thorough audit and examination of the City of Richwood’s finances; and to seek prosecution for those who may have misused taxpayer dollars,” McCuskey said.

Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @mattcombsRH

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