State Senate President Mitch Carmichael's call for a constitutional amendment to give the Legislature authority over the state Supreme Court's budget is gaining support daily as details emerge regarding its extravagant expenditures.
Can't our Supreme Court manage its own budget? Apparently not. In fact, with all the finger-pointing going on, it's hard to tell who authorized which expense and who had the final say. All we know for sure is that a lot of money was spent to refurbish the chambers of our five justices, and none of them wants to be blamed for it.
Refurbishing state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman's office cost $111,000, including more than $8,000 for a couch.
Justice Beth Walker’s chamber renovations cost more than $130,000. This is for the same office renovated in 2010 for former Justice Brent Benjamin at a cost of more than $264,000.
Justice Menis Ketchum’s chamber renovations cost $194,000 and Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s $363,000 (including a $32,000 sofa).
Though most of the expense went to construction, it took more than half a million dollars to spruce up the chambers of Justice Robin Davis.
As noted by WCHS/WVAH Eyewitness News reporter Kennie Bass, the combined cost of the renovations, originally projected at $900,000, spiraled upward to more than $3.7 million.
What happened to the previous furnishings? They may not have been deemed adequate for the justices' chambers, but some items found their way into the homes of the jurists as their office environments became more lavish.
Prompted by pangs of publicity, Loughry returned a desk and a leather couch.
A grandfather clock wound up in Ketchum's home, but he said he had purchased it when it was heading to surplus in 2010. But, there was no record of payment from him, so he coughed up the money just recently, seven years later.
Loughry blames the extravagant expenditures on the court's former administrator, Steve Canterbury, who insists that the justices signed off on all purchases.
The only folks who would never have signed off on such extravagance would be the folks who paid for it – you all.