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Editorial: It is past time for Kanawha prosecutor to go

Thank heaven, the sordid mess caused by Kanawha prosecutor Mark Plants seems to be nearing an end. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The county’s three commissioners — Democrats Kent Carper and Dave Hardy, plus Republican Hoppy Shores — voted unanimously to file court action to remove Plants. The decision by Shores was especially courageous, because Plants belongs to his political party. All three deserve public thanks.

Taxpayers already have been forced to pay $93,000 for special prosecutors necessitated by the regular prosecutor. If he isn’t removed swiftly, nobody knows how high the public cost could soar.

Although Plants was identified as a “family values” Republican, his messy private life caused the whole travesty. He lavished special favors on a married aide and got her pregnant — then they both divorced and married each other. But the real problem is that during visitation with his young son, Plants was charged with whipping the boy excessively and improperly approaching his children while it was forbidden by a domestic violence order.

Charleston’s Republican Mayor Danny Jones wrote that Plants “planted his political stake in the far-right family values” wing of the GOP — but “had an affair with his secretary. She had Plants’s baby while married to a Charleston police officer, and both families wound up in divorces.”

Kanawha taxpayers now are required to pay a special prosecutor to press child abuse charges against Plants, and a second special prosecutor to handle routine child abuse cases that Plants isn’t allowed to touch.

Repeatedly, county commissioners asked Plants to resign and end this fiasco. But he refused. So they took the only workable course: legal removal. We hope their action succeeds quickly.

Usually, this newspaper doesn’t judge politicians’ private family lives. But when misconduct almost wrecks a government office, something must be done.

Commissioners Carper, Hardy and Shores performed a needed service for Kanawha County.

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