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Editorial: Mess — Law violations

WHAT CAN you say about West Virginia legislators who write laws — then crassly disobey statutes applying to themselves?

A total of 52 Mountain State political candidates failed to file required personal disclosures with the state Ethics Commission before the Feb. 1 deadline, Statehouse correspondent Phil Kabler revealed. Various others don’t file campaign finance statements on time.

The case of Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, is especially baffling. She didn’t file five required campaign reports, and also missed her ethics filing. Nobody seems to know where she lives, because she has used three different addresses — including a Roller Road rental unit where owner Becky Jordon filed a notice to evict her. Democratic Party officials filed to remove her from the 2014 ballot, and she voluntarily removed herself.

Admittedly, some laws are unworkable. For example, candidates who don’t file ethics reports must be removed from election ballots — but, absurdly, printed ballots already are distributed to voters before the ethics filing deadline. If an aspirant breaks the ethics law, it’s too late for ballot removal. This glitch must be repaired.

When candidates file for the Legislature, they proclaim, in effect, that they are qualified to write laws that all West Virginians must obey. But when they can’t even obey statutes themselves, the process becomes ridiculous.

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