Ketchum catching flak for comments

by John O'Brien |
Sep. 24, 2008, 11:40am



CHARLESTON - Beth Walker, a Republican candidate for the state Supreme Court, says she is disappointed with the comments of one of her competitors.

Walker said she is issuing a call for civility after Huntington attorney Menis Ketchum referenced her wealthy husband while discussing the cost of campaigning before a board of editors at the Charleston Daily Mail.

Ketchum was complaining about the amount of money it took to get through the Democratic primary and recommended public financing for judicial elections, to which Walker disagreed.

"I didn't marry rich three years ago," Ketchum said, referring to Walker's marriage to Mike Walker, executive vice president of Walker Machinery, according to the Daily Mail report.

"I resent having to spend a half-million dollars of my children's money. I didn't marry rich. I made mine."

Walker, a Republican, earned her law degree at Ohio State University in 1990 and has since worked at Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, where she is now a partner.

"I am committed to a respectful discussion of the future of our court system in West Virginia," Walker said in a statement. "I am disappointed that Mr. Ketchum has resorted to personal attacks that do not promote a serious dialogue about the real issues."

Ketchum raised nearly $800,000 for May's primary, while Walker raised only $43,110. Walker was unopposed in hers, while Ketchum needed to best two of the four candidates in the Democratic field, which included current Chief Justice Spike Maynard, former Justice Margaret Workman and West Virginia University law professor Bob Bastress.

Workman and Ketchum advanced. Polls show Workman with a large lead over both Ketchum and Walker.

Legal reform group Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse also took issue with some of Ketchum's comments about personal injury lawyers advertising on television. Ketchum is a personal injury lawyer in Huntington.

"I think it's awful," he said, according to the report. "I advertise because the Charleston lawyers are taking my business."

He added that advertising turns lawyers into "used car salesmen," but must continue to do so because, "I have to eat."

"Since Ketchum has had the luxury of spending nearly half a million of his own money on a personal quest, we seriously doubt he relates the struggles faced by many West Virginians of having 'to eat,'" CALA executive director Steve Cohen said.

"But that's typical personal injury lawyer greed for you. Ketchum's comments are just further proof that he will tell everyone what they want to hear – whether it is true or not."

Ketchum loaned $390,000 to his campaign. He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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