Huntingtotn Council Will Take No Action Regarding Gillespie's Misdemeanor Conviction

by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Council member Pete Gillespie
Council member Pete Gillespie

District Two councilman Pete Gillespie has been convicted of two misdemeanors related to domestic violence. He has been sentenced to six months home confinement.

Prior to the Huntington City Council meeting emotions swelled concerning what would be the governing body's actions. Chairman Mark Bates predicted no formal action by council and that an inquiry had been made to the city attorney.

Gillespie's conviction did not come up until the Good and Welfare portion, when frequent critic om McCallister asserted that these met the " moral turpitude" clause for removal from his position. Following audience comments that ranged from David Jackson's "this man is representing hundreds, if not thousands, of battered women," to Michael Thompson's  diplomatic request for intense scrutiny of the charges. Thompson cited a personal experience where he assaulted no one but was slapped with a Domestic Violence accusation.

Bates moved for an executive session to discuss personnel matters. Councilman David Ball objected to closing the meeting to the media and public as "neither the city charter nor any council rule had been broken."

Following "no action" after the executive session, chairman Bates told HNN that council would speak through its attorney, Scott McClure.

McClure indicated that based on the city charter , "the only way you can remove someone is for the conviction of a felony." He explained that legal research of the legal intent of "moral turpitude"  related to a public servant typically meant dereliction of duty such as embezzlement, voter fraud , or kickbacks. McClure stated  that in one case misdemeanor tax evasion did not qualify as moral turpitude. He found other  examples of misdemeanors that may be "pretty egregious" which were not determined by the W.Va. Supreme  Court to "rise" to moral turpitude.

As a result, "based on that information council understands that there is nothing they can do and the matter is closed," McClure concluded.

Gillespie declined  comment to the media, referring them to McClure.  He made no comment during the public portion of the meeting, except to second a motion by council member Rebecca Thacker to allow Michael Thompson to add a "positive" comment. Gillespie was observed speaking with a minister after the meeting.

Any action against the council member would be through a properly completed recall petition that would lead to a vote.



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