By Wendy Holdren
An ethics hearing has been postponed yet again for Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh, who is accused of violating the Ethics Act by using his public office for private financial gain.
The West Virginia Ethics Commission confirmed that Pugh’s hearing, scheduled for Jan. 28 in Beckley, has been delayed and a new date has not yet been scheduled.
This delay was created when Martin J. Wright Jr., deputy counsel for the Ethics Commission, left the agency earlier this month to accept a position in the West Virginia Attorney General’s office.
Pugh is being charged with nine counts of ethics violations, including the use of public office for private gain, accepting improper gifts, use of a public office for own private gain and private gain of another, and prohibited interest in public contracts.
The complaint alleges that in return for providing public contracts with the city of Beckley and free use of the city’s resources, including material and labor, Pugh was “financially rewarded with gifted ownership interests in companies resulting in private gain of more than $12,000.”
The Probable Cause Review Board also alleges Pugh inappropriately used a vehicle leased under the Beckley Sanitary Board.
The alleged violations were made public knowledge in April and Councilman Chris Hall wrote a letter to the Ethics Commission in June, urging a formal hearing to be scheduled as quickly as possible. He said a resolution to this conflict would allow the council members to return their full focus back to the needs of city residents.
At the time then-Ethics Commission Director Theresa M. Kirk initially anticipated a September hearing, but in early October, the Commission announced a Jan. 28 hearing date for Mayor Pugh.
When a new date is set, it will be posted online at www.ethics.wv.gov.
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