EDITORIAL: U.S. Attorney's Manchin Investigation Remains a Mystery

HNN Staff

Not every federal investigation, even one as long and intricate as the probe into the Manchin Administration, must result in a flurry of indictments. However, when an investigation involves no less than five sets of subpoenas, the public is within its rights to ask if the hapless federal prosecutors knew what they were doing in this anti-climactic Manchin investigation..  Even Federal Judge John Copenhaver seemed astonished at the extraordinarily thin results of the lengthy investigation.

For example, at least twenty conversations were conducted that appeared to garner enough evidence to indict two Manchin Administration employees on mail fraud, an easily established federal violation.   After reviewing the evidence in a recent hearing where the subpoenas' demands were made public, Judge Copenhaver asked the federal prosecutors at a recent hearing, "What's different about this case than any other?"

We suspect the judge knows the answer to his own question.  We have a good hunch ourselves.

For one thing, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia during this federal investigation was R. Booth Goodwin II.  You remember the Goodwin family.  Booth Goodwin's cousin, Carte, was appointed by then Governor Mansion to be his placeholder in the seat of the late Robert C. Byrd.  In fact, Carte Goodwin was appointed to the U.S. Senate on July 16, 2010, a mere 21 days after his cousin, Booth, was sworn in as the new U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia on June 25th of that year.

The first subpoenas hit the Manchin Administration on July 28th, a little over a month after Booth Goodwin became U.S. Attorney, and less than two weeks after Carte Goodwin was appointed U.S. Senator by Manchin.

It is certainly conceivable that Manchin was aware of the pending investigation before the first subpoenas came at him.  Did knowledge of this federal investigation, in the middle of an election season for Byrd's seat, add into the calculus for the new U.S. Attorney's first cousin to be named by Manchin to the highest office in the land?

Who knows, but it might explain how the rather youthful Carte Goodwin got the nod to be U.S. Senator Robert Byrd's replacement over so many other Democrats who might have felt overlooked.

Manchin may believe that he is in the clear now with this particular case being closed.  However, the U.S. Attorney's office may yet try to redeem itself after such a modest result following such an expenditure of man hours in the Manchin Administration investigation.  We're not sure that we've ever heard before of an investigation featuring five rounds of subpoenas netting only six months in a halfway house for one person involved in the investigation.

Thus far, these Obama-appointed prosecutors certainly aren't the same caliber of prosecutors that brought former Governor Arch Moore down under the Reagan Administration. Republican-appointed federal prosecutors were able to bring one of their own to justice.   Perhaps the Obama appointees will still find a way to do the same if the evidence is there to come forward with more indictments.

After all, justice should come before party affiliation and family ties.




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