Gov. Jim Justice issued the following statement in response to a request from the Associated Press concerning his calendar. Also included is an additional statement on the matter from the Governor’s General Counsel Brian Abraham. The statements go into great detail, with specific examples, explaining how and why the calendar referenced in the piece is in no way, shape or form indicative of the Governor's true time spent serving as governor of West Virginia. The reporter was given these examples and explanations and chose not to use them:
“A lot of West Virginians have very tough jobs and are very hard workers. And when you’re working your butt off, sometimes the last thing that you think about is your calendar. I’ve been working like crazy the last two plus years, turning over every rock possible to make our great state even greater. Keeping our office calendars 100% up-to-date isn’t as important as finding ways to get West Virginia to a $53.6 million surplus last month or getting our secondary road maintenance program back on track.
“The calendar that you got through your FOIA request is used by my staff to try to keep straight my crazy schedule as governor, which can sometimes change by the minute and because of this, there are times where all the good work we’re doing never makes it onto the calendar.
“For example, if you look at Friday, April 19 of this year, it looks like my schedule was completely blank. But, in fact, that day we held a pair of major public events announcing that contracts were awarded for roadwork on US-35 and Jefferson Road in South Charleston – two major projects to make our state’s road infrastructure better. These events were spur-of-the-moment and never made it onto the calendar.
“This is just one of countless examples where a sheet of paper does not reflect the work and time I’ve put into helping West Virginia rise out of 50th and start the incredibly positive momentum we have going.
“Ask yourself what other governor in the history of West Virginia has been able to accomplish what I have during my time in office. We were dead flat bankrupt, and now, just two years later, we’ve had record-setting budget surpluses. We got tax exemptions for our veterans and senior citizens, while at the same time giving our teachers, correctional officers, and state employees a much-deserved pay raise. Visitors are coming to West Virginia, because we’re making investments in Tourism and our State Parks. Businesses are coming with them, choosing to invest in West Virginia because we’re changing our image to the outside world. Now ask yourself, would it possible to get all this done by not working hard?”
BRIAN ABRAHAM, GENERAL COUNSEL FOR GOVERNOR JUSTICE
“Using the calendar that you have obtained through your FOIA request to glean anything ironclad about the governor’s constantly-changing schedule would not be an accurate representation of the truth. The calendar is an internal document for the Governor’s Office staff only and is primarily used to track public events and events that may require travel arrangements. It is always in draft format, contains appointments that may or may not occur, is revised by staff daily, is never corrected, and is not an accurate log of Governor Justice's appointments.
“The governor’s true schedule often changes day-to-day or minute-to-minute and because of this, the document is fluid. There are times where last-second additions, subtractions and changes never make it onto the calendar. And there are times where the work that Governor Justice is doing for the people of West Virginia does not appear in this document.
“Further, the version of the document you have in your possession is a static snapshot of plans that may have been in the pipeline at the time you received it but should in no way be considered a finalized list of commitments moving forward.”