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Charleston Gazette Op-Ed: Time for Election and Ethics Reform

On Sunday, January 6th, the Charleston Gazette published an opinion piece I wrote calling for election and ethics reform in our state.  Below is the text: 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Much has been written of late about campaign finance. Just as we all got tired of negative ads, the latest blasphemy is even worse.

No one runs for office wanting to self-fund any portion of their campaign. However, when you enter the arena you quickly realize that many of the tactics used by the entrenched political elite in our state make it exceedingly difficult for a challenger to compete. From pulled permits, to tax audits, to investigations, to state contracts being pulled – we have heard it all. In a free society, we should not allow threats, incumbent-self-protection techniques, and machine politics to discourage fresh faces with bold new ideas from entering the political process. When a candidate self-finances, it is merely an attempt to counteract the natural, and frequently inappropriate advantages of incumbency. Ultimately, our elected officials work for the people of the state and should not be beholden to wealthy special interests and the politically well connected. Our founding fathers envisioned good people of high moral character serving in public office. They must be rolling over in their graves to see how difficult it is for non-incumbents to compete in today’s political environment!

Another factor which needs to be addressed is the proliferation of outside groups and obscure organizations. Lately they have gained dramatic influence. It should be easier for candidates to promote their own message and not rely on third parties of narrow special interest. One way this could be accomplished is by raising individual contribution limits. Wouldn’t West Virginians prefer a system where voters hear more from candidates instead of third parties who aren’t subject to campaign finance limits?

Too many of our native sons and daughters have to leave the state to find work. Too many children die from abuse and neglect in West Virginia. Over the last year, we lost more jobs than any other state. Workers in West Virginia earn smaller paychecks than anywhere else in the nation. West Virginia was again ranked last for legal fairness and continues to be near the top of the Judicial Hellhole list. Our state deserves better!

While the result of our race was disappointing, we are incredibly proud of what we accomplished in West Virginia against a liberal nationwide tidal wave. We have a new Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, and a State Supreme Court Justice in Allen Loughry who will both uphold the values of Adams, Jefferson and Washington. The Legislature is filled with many likeminded Mountaineers who ran for no other reason than to help others. For the first time in nearly a century, the House of Delegates is truly a two-party chamber.

Running for governor has been the honor of my life. I have had the opportunity to meet and connect with incredible people, who share the same desire to bring a brighter future to West Virginia for generations to come. Sharon and I made a choice to contribute and improve our state. This choice came with great sacrifice over the course of the last two years, both in time and resources. We cannot imagine any other endeavor that had such a profound effect on so many.

West Virginia is an incredible place to call home and I am proud to be a Mountaineer. It is worth fighting for and I ask you to continue with me in that fight. Let’s take a serious look at election and ethics reforms, before it’s too late. We desperately need to attract more good people to seek public office.

Maloney is the principal of Cow Run Energy LLC and Drill Leader LLC. He is a founder of many successful West Virginia companies including North American Drillers, Inc. He used his expertise to rescue 33 Chilean miners in 2010 and was the Republican candidate for governor of West Virginia in both 2011 and 2012.

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