In response to management issues, W.Va. Legislative leaders authorize public review of Rise West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House and Senate leadership of the West Virginia Legislative has taken action to being a formal examination of the RISE West Virginia program.

House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, have formally requested that Senator Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha,  and Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, co-chairmen of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, conduct public meetings on the management of the RISE West Virginia program.

Wednesday, the office of Governor Jim Justice released information on irregularities in the West Virginia Department of Commerce’s management of the program and $17 million in contracts.

Senator Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha

Brian Abraham, general counsel for the Governor’s office, said Justice officials ordered a review of administration of the funding, which triggered a series of actions, including the firing of one staff member at the Department of Commerce.

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay

The Department of Commerce manages the RISE West Virginia disaster recovery program through the West Virginia Development Office and West Virginia Community Advancement and Development Office.

Abraham said former U.S. Attorney Mike Carey, brought in as outside counsel to handle the review,  found a $17 million payment to be “problematic.” The payment did not go through the purchasing agency and was not reviewed by the Attorney General’s office — required steps in payment distribution.

With the action by Armstead and Carmichael, the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding is authorized to conduct meetings outside of previously scheduled legislative interim committee dates, so they do not need to wait until the next round of interim meetings to begin holding public meetings on this matter.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding met on Tuesday and discussed Rise West Virginia, but there was no information on the issues outlined by the Governor’s office on Wednesday.

See the attached letter from Armstead and Carmichael here: Letter to Flood Committee


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