September 28, 2013 11:32 am -

8c9565a26a24921b3a0f6a706700dfd3It’s a given that politics at the county level, which is seldom given scrutiny by the press or serious oversight by state or federal authorities, can be an incubator for corruption. That being said, it’s been a long time since we’ve read anything that matches Hunter Walker’s latest article, “Inside The Crooked ‘Courthouse Gang’ Of Coal Country”, just published in the outstanding muckraking blog Talking Points Memo.

Corruption is something of a tradition in Mingo, a coal mining county that is home to less than 30,000 people and located along West Virginia’s border with Kentucky. In the late 1980s, more than 50 Mingo residents who held government jobs were arrested for various illegal activities, including bribery, arson, and drug dealing. Because of this unique history, the locals have a special term for the corrupt political machinery there. It’s a name investigators are using once again to describe [Judge Michael] Thornsbury and his associates — the “courthouse gang.”

Thornsbury’s part in [a recently revealed] alleged conspiracy is just the latest in a long list of disturbing recent revelations involving officials in Mingo. The alleged conspiracy also involves another major figure in Mingo, the late Eugene Crum, who was the county sheriff up until he was shot and killed on April 3 as he ate lunch in his parked car.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.