PARSONS -- A Tucker County native has written a book detailing West Virginia's history of political corruption, but he ultimately wants it to be more about the future than the past.
Dr. Allen H. Loughry II just released "Don't Buy Another Vote, I Won't Pay for a Landslide." The book, printed by Parsons-based McClain Printing Co., looks at corruption going all the way back to 1861, before West Virginia even became a state.
"West Virginia has had more than its fair share of corrupt political felons as countless state, county and city elected officials have spent time in federal and state penitentiaries," Loughry writes. "The people of the state who proudly call themselves Mountaineers have never been truly free from the depredations of political and financial corruption."
Loughry is a Tucker County High School graduate, and he has completed four law degrees and worked for a governor and a congressman.
He currently works as a clerk for state Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard. Although a registered Democrat, Loughry said corruption in West Virginia has been a bipartisan effort. He noted that Republicans love to criticize Democrats for the behavior of Wally Barron, while Democrats quickly point to the transgressions of Arch Moore.
"Both parties need to step up," Loughry said. "There's no accountability. It's just outrageous to me.
"I don't think anybody who picks this book up will be able to say 'Look at this left wing blank' or 'Look at this right wing blank.' "
The book, a longtime project of Loughry's that took years to write but includes information up through the 2006 legislative session, already has drawn praise from some political heavyweights. Sens. John McCain and Robert Byrd both wrote forewords in the book, and former Gov. Gaston Caperton calls it "a must read that no West Virginian should be without and no politician should ignore."
In his foreword, McCain writes, ""Allen Loughry has issued a reminder that there are watchdogs and whistleblowers willing to defy intimidation and do the difficult and necessary work of defending our American ideals," while Byrd says in his "The money cycle in politics too often corrupts political discourse. It makes us slaves to the dollar rather than the servants of the people we all aspire to be."
The book includes chapters on campaign corruption from the presidential level on down to local races, elected officials who went to prison and officeholders who use state money to further their own name recognition.
The title of the book actually is a quotation attributed to John F. Kennedy's father in the wake of the 1960 West Virginia primary that sent Kennedy on his way to the White House. Despite the hundreds of pages dedicated to the past, Loughry wants the book's impact to be on the future.
"This is not just a book complaining about West Virginia politics," he said. "It's a book that hopes to change the face of politics in the state forever."
The book includes 50 ways to change and improve the political process, a "Contract with the Voter" Loughry said all candidates should be asked to sign. Among the promises are to:
* Support legislation requiring that "None of the Above" be an option on every general election ballot;
* Support legislation taking away the state pension of any politician convicted of corruption;
* Ban the purchase and distribution of state-paid trinkets;
* Reform the state's ethics laws;
* Outlaw the practice of paying money to be placed on political slates used to buy votes;
* Support for stronger sunshine laws and more lenient Freedom of Information Act laws, which promote open government.
Loughry knows change won't be easy, pointing out the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston has tried to stop vote-buying and other corrupt practices.
"There are a lot of early patterns. There's never been a break," he said. "We've never left the history truly in the past.
"You can't fix the system from the top down," he added. "You have to do it at the local level first, then move up the ladder. You can't ask people at the top who are already products of a corrupt system to fix the system."
Loughry currently is driving around the state promoting the book, including appearances on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kerchaval and 58 Live on WCHS-AM in Charleston. The book is available locally at Taylor Books and on the Web at McClain Printing's site at www.mcclainprinting.com. The book and more information also is available on Loughry's Web site at www.reformwv.com.
Stadelman is editor of The Parsons Advocate. The paper can be found online at www.parsonsadvocate.com.