GOP candidates for W.Va. attorney general disagree on expanding powers of the office
Though the 2024 elections are still a ways off, a contentious issue has already arisen in the race for the attorney general’s office of West Virginia.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - Though the 2024 elections are still a ways off, a contentious issue has already arisen in the race for the attorney general’s office of West Virginia.
AG candidates and current W.Va. senators Mike Stuart (R - Kanwaha) and Ryan Weld (R - Brooke) have come out on opposite sides of the issue of expanding the prosecutorial powers of the attorney general.
In the midst of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct by a Kanawha County commissioner, Sen. Stuart proposed expanding the authority of the AG to prosecute criminal cases where local prosecutors may have conflicts of interest. Currently, the attorney general of West Virginia is one of only 11 states in which the attorney general lacks the power to prosecute criminal cases, according to a press release from Stuart’s office.
Conversely, Sen. Weld believes increasing the prosecutorial powers of the attorney general would be a mistake. “I absolutely would not pursue such a dangerous weaponization of state government as the next attorney general,” Weld said in a statement released Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, he elaborated on his concerns to WTAP, saying that giving the attorney general prosecutorial powers would strip away citizens’ influence over their local government and law enforcement. “All of that power would be shifted and moved to Charleston,” Weld said. “They have much lesser of a say of who’s prosecuting crimes in their county.”
Weld said existing state code provides ample avenues for prosecutions to avoid conflicts of interest when it comes to issues of corruption and abuses of power by local officials, specifically citing the laws authorizing special prosecutors as an example.
Both Weld and Stuart serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Weld acting as vice chair.
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