What a mess it has become to replace Gus Douglass as Commissioner of Agriculture. Maybe that is why Doulgass stayed all those years.
The Charleston Daily Mail has reported two Ag department officials Steve Miller and Bob Tabb should have left the state payroll when they became a candidate. They are likely in violation of the federal Hatch Act. That act does not allow running for partisan office if employment includes a connection with programs financed by federal money. No one even checked.
This is on top of the fact when Miller and Tabb decided to run for Ag Commissioner last week The Charleston Daily Mail had a story that the department’s lawyer agreed to change the department’s employee handbook so they could be on the payroll and still run for political office. Does this whole thing sound like an inside job?
An insider at the Capitol for over twenty years Sen. Walt Helmick decided to run for the Doulgass position. Helmick has never been known as a farmer but as a legislator with a background in economic development. A Kanawha County based court set aside a 1911 law to make him a farmer.
Republican farmer Mike Teets an outsider who filed for Commissioner in January set aside his nearly assured victory and left the race. He added to the messy replacement of Douglass when he later endorsed insider Helmick.
Maybe the outsiders are where the voters should turn to replace Douglass. Sally Shepherd [Democrat] has somewhat of an agriculture background or Kent Leonhardt [Republican] a true farmer in Monongahela County.
A house cleaning at the WV Department of Agriculture after 50 years of the same leadership may be the order of the day.