Bastress e-mails show election speculation

By Chris Dickerson | May 7, 2008

Bastress MORGANTOWN – E-mails in state Supreme Court candidate Bob Bastress' West Virginia University College of Law account show he and others speculating on the race.


MORGANTOWN – E-mails in state Supreme Court candidate Bob Bastress' West Virginia University College of Law account show he and others speculating on the race.

"As for the campaign, it has heated up," Bastress, a WVU law professor, wrote to a former colleague in a Feb. 8 e-mail. "The stuff on Spike (Chief Justice Maynard) has made it interesting, and the rumors are heavy (some from apparently knowledgeable sources) that a lot more is coming."

The exchange was with Emily Spieler, dean of the Northeastern University College of Law in Boston. She is a former WVU law professor. The subject line of the e-mail was "Dean search," and part of it was redacted by WVU.

The West Virginia Record had requested phone and fax records for Bastress since Nov. 1, and e-mail records since Nov. 1 of campaign-related correspondence.

The e-mails show that Bastress has talked to other WVU faculty members, students and others about helping on his campaign, had official campaign literature sent to his law school e-mail account, sought donations and communicated with the media about the election and discussed the campaign with current state Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher. State law prohibits the use of public resources to run a political campaign.

Phone and fax records, according to WVU's FOIA reply, only are kept for long-distance calls and faxes. Bastress had no long-distance calls or faxes, according to WVU. Bastress also does not have a state-issued cell phone, WVU said.

"The feds have moved in, apparently," Bastress continued in his e-mail to Spieler. "I've also been informed another development is coming in the next week. We'll see. Spike could implode at any time, and he is certainly wounded enough already to have made a race of it. ...

"Responses are positive (which means next to nothing), but raising money continues to be a struggle."

Spieler replied asking about the other candidates.

"The other two candidates are Margaret Workman and Menis Ketchum," Bastress replied. "Menis, as you might recall, is a very successful trial lawyer in Huntington and will dump a lot of money into the campaign."

Spieler again replied.

"Bad news about Ketchum," she wrote. "Sorry."

Another exchange that was forwarded to Bastress was between filmmaker Wayne Ewing and Michael C. Farber, a Sutton attorney who currently is suspended for failure to pay dues and to disclose whether he carries malpractice insurance as well as an ethics violation.

On Jan. 16, Farber forwarded an e-mail between himself and Ewing to Bastress. In it, Farber relays some comments he says he heard from Charleston attorney Rudy DiTrapano concerning Chief Justice Spike Maynard and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

"he (DiTrapano) also mentioned that he stayed at the place spike did in nice (France) and that it ran $1800.00 for the cheap rooms!" Farber wrote. "he commented that spike was too cheap to pay those kind of prices ..."

He later mentions that he shared DiTrapano's alleged comments with Charleston Gazette reporter Paul Nyden.

Ewing, who filmed a documentary about former state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw's 2004 campaign, had first mentioned to Farber that he thought McGraw "might be considering a rerun for that office instead of running for circuit court judge in wyoming county."

"problem is that it takes a lot of money to run for SC, even in WVA," Ewing wrote.

Farber then talked about the state Supreme Court race.

"i spoke to richard neely afterward and he agreed warren should take a hard look at a rerun for the supreme court," Farber wrote. "if warren got in for spike's seat and larry (Starcher) either stayed in or someone of his bent stepped in there could be a new progressive majority 3-2 ...

"my law professor friend, bob bastress has already announced for one seat and I'm set to help him out through an independent PAC."

Later, Ewing replied.

"If this keeps up, I may [have] to re-title 'The Last Campaign' the 'Next to Last Campaign,'" Ewing wrote. "I am sure Warren is ready to get in the starting gate, but he'll need real $ to actually run. Please keep me informed."

Bastress later forwarded the messages to his wife, Monongalia County Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer with the comment, "See forward. BAD ideas therein."

On Jan.8, Bastress and Farber discussed the potential political action committee, radio appearances, radio commercials and a Sutton political event that also included an appearance by state Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

"the mcgraw event is march 30th at cafe cimino in sutton; 2:00 pm," Farber wrote. "it will be his day with the old guard upfront but it looks like we'll need to play it heavily your way too …

"we could also do the radio show too if you want … i'll get you the particulars on the collective coverage of the various stations but they're dominate in the central part of the state heading south into fayette ...

"i'm willing to work on some radio spots too … i'm thinking about forming a PAC but i'd prefer to take a lower profile the more i think about it ...

"if i could find an instate person to take the upfront role on the paperwork i'd go that way ... i'm prepared to do the footwork and heavy lifting on mailings and fund-raisers as i have time ..."

Bastress replied 30 minutes later.

"Thanks for the offers of help," he wrote. "I definitely want to do the radio spots. The timing on them I leave to your discretion. As for a PAC, that would be great, but of course I can't coordinate that with what my campaign is doing."

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