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WV deserves better than Mingo County brand of corruption

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West Virginia has a long and sad tradition of political corruption. While it can certainly be found across our state, it's no secret that Southern West Virginia has the market cornered on political scofflaws and those who put themselves first.

As we learned last week, a new chapter is being written in this terrible saga.

Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, 57, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 15. He is accused of abusing his power to frame his paramour's husband. On that same day, County Commissioner David Baisden was indicted on federal charges that he was trying to extort a tire shop.

The case federal authorities have laid out against Thornsbury is the stuff of trashy pulp fiction. In 2008, when his alleged affair with his secretary ended, the judge is accused of plotting against her husband. According to the indictment, Thornsbury asked a friend to plant drugs in the man's truck, directed State Police to investigate him, and, in what can only be described as a bold affront to our judicial system, abused the grand jury process to target his rival.

The charges against Baisden are not nearly as sordid, but only in West Virginia would a duly elected official, one with the full faith of the electorate who put him office, try bend the rules for a new set of tires. It would be funny if it were not so very serious. 

Not to trot out a well-worn colloquialism, but what is it with these guys? Who do they think they are? And what is happening with their thought process that makes them think this is even remotely acceptable?

When elected leaders abuse their positions, it degrades everything this country stands for and chips away at the very foundation of our democratic system. Those who hold public office are certainly human and we must never expect perfection, but to do something that goes directly against your oath sworn on the Bible is never, ever acceptable.

Vote buying, political chicanery, pursuing vendettas — whatever the case may be — has no place in the public sector. Backwoods bosses and their complicit cronies in corruption have done enough damage. Hopefully, the recent crackdown on fraud will send a clear and focused message that those who have been feeding at the public trough or using their office to advance their own selfish goals is at an end. The people of Mingo County deserve better, and the people of West Virginia deserve better.