A couple of days ago I posted a column about a corrupt West Virginia Delegate, Jerry Mezzatesta, who had plead no contest to charges of tampering with official House of Delegates documents. He is generally known to have indulged in much more mischief than that, but he and his staffer wife were caught faking documents to try to throw off ethics investigators looking into his activities.
I noted the problems with periods when the same political party holds power, and the instances of wrongdoing and arrogance that often result from one-party rule. Delegate Mezzatesta exemplifies all of this.
As one more insult to the good taxpayers of West Virginia, whom he has so poorly served, Mezzatesta arrogantly filed for nearly $1,000 of reimbursement for the day he was sentenced following his plea, and for the time spent cleaning out his office (he was not re-elected in November), including extra duty pay for three days, room and food expenses, and mileage. An AP news story also notes that he was paid extra duty pay for the day he and the missus illegally changed the House documents.
Few people would have Mezzatesta’s audacity. The House Majority Leader, Rick Staton noted that were he in the same position as Mezzatesta, “I would not turn in my paperwork.” Then there’s House Speaker Bob Kiss, who only said he will review the reimbursement request.
Mezzatesta did not contest charges that he had broken the law, is accused of multiple instances of misfeasance and favoritism as Chairman of the House Education Committee. He received far less than the maximum sentence, and ought to consider himself fortunate to not have received jail time. But he apparently has not learned much from this experience, and continues to thumb his nose at the public that pays his salary. If that isn’t gall, I don’t know what is.