Stuart

Manchin

CHARLESTON -- West Virginia's Republican Party -- with just weeks left before the Nov. 2 election -- is reminding voters about federal subpoenas received by Gov. Joe Manchin's administration.

Manchin, a Democrat, is running for Sen. Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat. He faces Republican opponent John Raese, a Morgantown businessman, at the polls in November.

State GOP Chairman Mike Stuart told The Associated Press he wants Manchin to answer questions about the requests for documents from the state's Division of Highways and Department of Administration, cabinet agencies under Manchin.

Stuart told the AP he is also targeting state Democratic Party Chair Larry Puccio, who was Manchin's longtime chief of staff.

Manchin spokesman Melvin Smith said the governor hasn't been told that he or any current or former member of his administration is under investigation.

"Neither subpoena was directed to Governor Manchin or the Governor's Office," Manchin's office said in a statement last month. "No individual in the Governor's Office was served with a subpoena."

According to the statement, Manchin has directed state officials to "fully cooperate and comply expeditiously."

"Governor Manchin wants to get to the bottom of the issue as soon as possible," his office said.

The administration has otherwise declined to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Darrell McGraw has appointed Dwane Tinsley of Charleston to represent the state.

Both the attorney general's office and federal prosecutors have declined to comment on the case, and McGraw's office has refused to release the contents of the subpoenas.

Tinsley, who is helping the state Department of Administration and Division of Highways comply with the subpoenas, rejected the Charleston Gazette's request for the documents. The newspaper sought the subpoenas through a request under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

In declining to release the contents, Tinsley cited federal rules that govern criminal proceedings.

Tinsley has said that the requested documents are exempt from the state public records law because the federal rules prohibit government attorneys and others from disclosing matters before a grand jury.

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