The Justice Department announced Wednesday it will be pursuing legal action against 13 West Virginia coal companies owned by the son of Governor Jim Justice.
The filing for civil litigation comes merely a week after Justice declared his candidacy in the 2024 West Virginia Senate Election, a seat currently held by Democrat Joe Manchin.
The DOJ insists the companies owned by Jim Justice III violated the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, citing 130 violations of safety and harm to the environment between 2018 and 2022.
The DOJ Is Seeking Over $7.6M In Fines
So WV Governor Jim Justice announces that he's running for US Senate and a poll comes out that shows he's 20 points up on Joe Manchin.
And what happens next?
The DOJ comes after him and his family with a civil suit claiming he owes $5 million in "unpaid fines." This is your…
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 31, 2023
In a 128-page complaint, the DOJ alleges the companies failed to pay $5 million in civil penalties and owe over $190,000 in Abandoned Mine Land reclamation fee debts.
The DOJ further seeks to recover over $4.3 million in owed corporate civil penalties, $1.4 million in undisputed individual civil penalties, and $190,759.97 in agreed AML reclamation fees and audit debts.
The reclamation fee debt in addition to the civil penalties amount to over $7.6 million, which the lawsuit asks for in 30 days post-judgment.
The violations deal with Justice failing to maintain drain ditches, diversions, dams, surface runoff from mining, and monitoring seismic activity.
Jim Justice’s Campaign for Senate
2024 West Virginia Senate: Jim Justice holds 22-Point lead over Joe Manchin
(R) Justice : 54% (+22)
(D) Manchin: 32%
Justice approval: 57/29 (net +28)
Manchin approval: 33/59 (-26)
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) May 30, 2023
The National Republican Senatorial Committee condemned the DOJ’s sudden filing of a lawsuit against Justice’s family as politically motivated.
Jim Justice, amid the circulation of rumors about a potential run, announced his candidacy for the United States Senate in late April. The West Virginia Constitution forbids governors from running for more than two terms.
The elder Justice intends on flipping a seat held by the Democrat Joe Manchin since 2010.
Justice himself currently holds an impressive 22-point edge over Manchin in the Senate with a 54% approval rating, while his opponent sits at 32%.
Justice III took over all executive positions held by his father when he became governor in 2017 and later switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.This article appeared in The Political Globe and has been published here with permission.