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Tag: jim justice

West Virginia’s Billionaire GOP Governor Just Lost $700M

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia is your run-of-the-mill Trumpian billionaire. He is considered the wealthiest person in West Virginia even though he's something of a deadbeat, living off of subsidies, and failing ever upward. He mindlessly parrots whatever the conservative culture war persecution complex-of-the-day may be. Like Trump, Justice owns a golf course. And like Trump, Justice has reportedly made his life's work dodging taxes and not paying his bills.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gov. Jim Justice was personally on the hook for $700 million in loans taken out for his coal interests from investment fund Greensill Capital, based in the U.K. Greensill Capital has gone bankrupt, with a Swiss bank freezing the fund in March. According to the Journal, Justice's Bluestone Resources Inc., which had expected an abeyance on paying off the loans until 2023, was in talks with the bank. On Tuesday, Justice confirmed that the Journal story was, in fact, true. Please grab your tissues and your tiniest violin.

Justice told reporters that this large loan is now "a burden on our family beyond belief, and we'll have to deal with it. It's tough, it is really tough." The Journal reports that Greensill "packaged the loans and sold them to investment funds managed by Credit Suisse Group AG," and with the freezing of the company's assets, Credit Suisse was "under pressure" to get back some of the money lost—and fast. Justice's Bluestone was named by Credit Suisse as one of Greensill's three top borrowers, and so the clock has begun ticking.

According to Justice, his son (who serves as the CEO of the company while Justice is governor) told him he had spoken to Greensill just two days before the company filed for bankruptcy. Greensill told them everything was going swell, Justice claims. It must be a weird feeling to be told one thing and then realize you are being lied to and a lot of your money is about to disappear down a hole, right?

Sadly, the richest man in West Virginia, estimated up until this past year of being worth $1.2 billion, is now pegged at $450 million, according to Forbes. Of course, based on reporting done on Justice's penchant for being tardy with bills, the chances that Credit Suisse is going to be seeing a check soon are slim to none.

Since 2016 courts have ordered Justice and his companies to pay more than $10 million to more than a dozen suppliers, workers and government entities. Over the same time, his companies also piled up $13 million-plus in tax liens. He claims to have paid off many of these. Still looming: another $60 million in potential damages in a civil case awaiting final judgment, plus up to $3 million in fines in Kentucky. And then there's mine reclamation. By federal law, when a surface mine closes, the operator has to restore the landscape. Virginia's Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy estimates that Justice's coal companies face $200 million in reclamation liabilities. (Justice claims it will cost closer to $10 million.)

Justice owns over 100 companies, according to Forbes, that historically brought in about $450 million annually. However, that profit only provides somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million annually for the Justice family.

Justice, like his buddy Trump, is litigious. He sues people and is sued routinely. Bluestone sued Greensill for fraud in March, after the bankruptcy filing. Justice told reporters that his family plans to "continue to pay our obligations and move forward."

West Virginia’s GOP Governor Urges Passage Of Biden's Covid-19 Relief Bill

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

West Virginia's Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Monday endorsed a large economic stimulus bill, arguing that federal lawmakers have "got to move" on legislation.

In an interview with CNN host Poppy Harlow, Justice said he sided with approving Biden's package over waiting for a "bipartisan bill" with less money, saying GOP efforts to trim down the bill were ill-timed.

"What we need to do is we need to understand that trying to be, per se, fiscally responsible at this point in time, with what we've got going on in this country ... if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?" Justice said.

"We have really got to move and get people taken care of," Justice said, saying he wants to work with the Biden administration on legislation.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Recent polling has shown strong bipartisan support — as high as 82 percent — for relief, which includes more help for small businesses and stimulus checks.

Congressional Republicans have been trying to significantly curtail the size of the relief bill. The Republican proposal would cut three months' worth of unemployment insurance from the Biden proposal and remove $400 per person in direct payments while considerably shrinking the number of households that would receive help.

In the interview, Justice cited "struggling" people in his state, noting that many cannot pay their electricity bills because "they've got laid off because this pandemic swept their job away from them."

Justice's comments echo those of President Joe Biden, who said on Friday, "We have learned from past crises the risk is not doing too much, the risk is not doing enough."

Justice governs an overwhelmingly Republican state that went 68 to 29 percent for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He is a conservative who received Trump's endorsement in his 2020 race and supported his reelection.

From the Feb. 1 edition of CNN's "Newsroom":

POPPY HARLOW, CNN: Economic relief is critical for Americans right now, it's critical to your folks in West Virginia. You have been clear about your desire to support President Biden, to work across the aisle.
When it comes to this COVID relief bill, I wonder what is more important to the people of West Virginia and to you: that Biden's $1.9 trillion-dollar bill passes, even if it's without Republican support and through reconciliation, which would mean bigger checks to your folks in need, or that it's a bipartisan agreement even if it's less money?
JIM JUSTICE: Well, first and foremost I wish we'd all come together, and that's not blowing smoke, that's just – because I don't do that.
But, the other flip side of it is this, is, Poppy, we've got a lot of people in West Virginia that are still struggling with paying their power bill, because they've got laid off because this pandemic just swept their job away from them.
HARLOW: Right, so which one is it?
JUSTICE: I mean, at the end of the day, really and truly, Poppy, what we need to do is we need to understand that trying to be, per se, fiscally responsible at this point in time, with what we've got going on in this country, if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?
We have really got to move and get people taken care of, and get people back on balance, and I want to work with the Biden administration just like I worked with the Trump administration and I want us to move forward.
HARLOW: That's really significant, to hear from a Republican like yourself in a state where your Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, thinks these payments are not targeted enough. Have you talked to him about it?
JUSTICE: Well, you know, I have not talked directly to Joe about that and everything. I don't really know exactly what the thinking could possibly be there. I mean, we've got people that are really hurting. I mean, that's just all there is to it and on top of that — here's a perfect example, Poppy. My executive assistant came in the other day, and said not far from my home there was an elderly man that froze to death in his house and everything. Probably couldn't afford to pay the power bill.
There's so many different things where people are really, really hurting and today we've got to move, we can't hold back — we've got to move.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.