by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Councilman Gillespie
Councilman Gillespie
File Photo

DEVELOPING ... District Two Huntington City Councilman Pete Gillespie has been admitted to the Western Regional Jail, according to booking documents. Gillespie had been sentenced to home confinement  after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. According to reports, he allegedly violated the terms of his home confinement due to possession of a firearm.

Gillespie, 37, and his wife have been involved in a divorce.

He will have a probable cause hearing within five days.

Back in August, Huntington City Council relying upon an interpretation of the City Charter by City Attorney Scott McClure determined that Gillespie could remain on council.

The Charter states that a member may be removed for missing 40% of meeting in one year, for a felony conviction, or for not being able to perform their duties.

During the August council meeting --- a portion of which was not made public due to executive session --- McClure analyzed a "moral turpitude" clause. Councilman David Ball objected to closing the meeting to the public.

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 speaker 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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