WV corruption probe gaining steam?

posted at 1:09 pm on October 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

This week hasn’t exactly been kind to West Virginia’s governor in his bid to upgrade his seat to the Senate.  John Raese has managed to keep a small lead in place, and a federal corruption probe appears to be widening.  Politico reports that Democrats in West Virginia are beginning to worry that Joe Manchin might find any last-minute effort to build momentum stymied:

A federal investigation into West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s administration has taken a disturbing turn for his Democratic supporters: agents reportedly have subpoenaed the director of the state Aviation Division, along with flight logs and records for official government aircraft.

The news comes just after federal prosecutors privately asked a judge to delay the sentencing of a contractor who got a no-bid contract to redecorate Manchin’s office. And the developments are set against an ongoing government probe reportedly involving state Democratic Party chairman Larry Puccio, Manchin’s former chief of staff.

It’s highly unlikely the federal investigation will be resolved before Election Day, and the exact details of the probe, which apparently stem from state contracts, are still unclear. But the headlines about possible wrongdoing in the governor’s office – and rumors swirling around his former top aide – threaten to hamstring Manchin in his tight Senate race with millionaire businessman John Raese, with the Democrats’ control of the Senate at stake.
g,
“There’s no smoking gun,” said West Virginia Democratic consultant Michael Plante. “There’s no revelation here now, there’s no indication of who is involved or why they’re interested. But it certainly makes for interesting chatter around the state capital.”

The big question involves Clark Diehl, a contractor who was due to be sentenced on Monday.  The judge postponed the hearing until April after investigators warned that it could damage their probe.  Diehl is apparently cooperating, and his direct connection to Manchin and other Democratic officials makes the 11th-hour intervention rather interesting.  If he’s singing a tune important enough to warrant the request to delay sentencing, the song must be awfully important.

Of course, the probe may end up having nothing to do with Manchin, either, although it now involves a contractor given no-bid work done in his office and a public works project in Manchin’s home town.  In that sense, federal investigators did Manchin no favors by putting off the sentencing.  But the absence of flat denials and talk of “no smoking guns” makes it look as though the popular governor has reason to worry — and West Virginians have reason to keep him close to home.

Rasmussen will report today that Raese still leads by three — down from seven last week.

Update: I was wrong about the Rasmussen poll today.  It shows Manchin up by three over Raese:

Democratic Governor Joe Manchin has been in overdrive in recent days to distance himself from President Obama and congressional Democrats, and now he’s edged back into a three-point advantage in West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely West Virginia Voters finds Manchin with 49% support to Republican John Raese’s 46%. Two percent (2%) like another candidate in the race, while four percent (4%) remain undecided. …

A week ago, Raese held a lead over the highly popular governor who surprisingly found himself on the defensive in a state where the president and his policies are highly unpopular. The race remains one of the closest in the country with both national parties pouring heavy advertising dollars into the state.

Raese leads among voters who Strongly Disapprove of President Obama’s performance while Manchin is the overwhelming choice for those with a positive opinion of the president. Among those who Somewhat Disapprove of Obama’s performance, Manchin has a 2-to-1 advantage.

A ten-point swing in a week?  That seems rather odd to me.  The sample split is D+7, 44/37/19.  The 2006 exit poll from West Virginia showed a much wider split, 51/32/16.  The previous week’s sample was more generous to Democrats, 48/35/17.  Looks odd to me, but Raese needs to get back in gear in the final days.


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I know that our side ain’t perfect…but doesn’t the word corruption always seem to follow Democrats????

search4truth on October 27, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Notice it’s not about whether Munchkin is actually guilty it’s about POWER……AND IF THE DEMS CAN KEEP IT.

TEEEEEEEENNNNNAAAAAAMMMMIIII

hitting the beaches of West Virginia on 11/2

PappyD61 on October 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Rasmussen actually reports Raese down by three.

KingGold on October 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Only Tues night (or Wed morn) will tell for sure, but I’m beginning to think even God is mad at the Dems.

cartooner on October 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM

This is one race that seemed to be slipping away. Maybe this will bring it back.

Vashta.Nerada on October 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

But the absence of flat denials and talk of “no smoking guns” makes it look as though the popular governor has reason to worry — and West Virginians have reason to keep him close to home.

‘cept that one that he shot the sh!t out of the cap and trade bill with, eh?

No wonder Manchin is getting desperate, he wants to get outta dodge and put this lil’ sideshow behind him.

ted c on October 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

This is nothing. Remember when Miller got into problems because he did a poll, while at work? Not THAT’S corruption. LOL

The fact that this “There’s no smoking gun,” said West Virginia Democratic consultant Michael Plante. “There’s no revelation here now, there’s no indication of who is involved or why they’re interested. But it certainly makes for interesting chatter around the state capital.” was even necessary, pretty much sums things up.

capejasmine on October 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Good post, Ed, EXCEPT, for this: “his bid to upgrade his seat to the Senate.”

It’s time the country moved back to the realization that Senator is a step below Governor.

gdb in central Texas on October 27, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Rasmussen actually reports Raese down by three.

A 10-point swing in 1 week?

Jon0815 on October 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

agents reportedly have subpoenaed the director of the state Aviation Division, along with flight logs and records for official government aircraft.

This is more than just a contractor.

Vashta.Nerada on October 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

It’s Popcorn Time!!!!

pilamaye on October 27, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Rasmussen actually reports Raese down by three.
A 10-point swing in 1 week?

Jon0815 on October 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Outlier.

Oink on October 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Ouch!!! Allegations similar to this led former CT Governor John Rowland to resign. If WV voters are as sensitive to corruption as CT voters, Manchin will NOT go to the Senate, and will have to face the music in WV as Governor.

Steve Z on October 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Outlier.

Oink on October 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Possible, but I suspect that every single poll is underestimating GOP turnout by three or four points anyway. We’ll win in WV.

KingGold on October 27, 2010 at 1:29 PM

If WV voters are as sensitive to corruption as CT voters, Manchin will NOT go to the Senate, and will have to face the music in WV as Governor.

Steve Z on October 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

The home state of Robert Byrd………..

Vashta.Nerada on October 27, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Hard to believe Rease has dropped four points in a week, with all that going on. I suspect a funky poll. (They are all funky, but some are extra funky)

dogsoldier on October 27, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Rasmussen actually reports Raese down by three.
A 10-point swing in 1 week?

Jon0815 on October 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Outlier.

Oink on October 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

I hope so. One thing I know for sure is that liberals I know in WV are very disgruntled about the idea voting for Manchin. It’ll get decided on turnout, and I suspect the pollsters may be misunderestimating the negative effect that Manchin’s lurch to the right will have on the Democrat base.

forest on October 27, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Manchin can make another quick ad, show himself shooting an airplane with his hunting rifle.

Bishop on October 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I always think something like this will sink a Democrat, but than you have to remember Murtha continually getting elected in Pennsylvania & Charlie Rangle winning his partys nomination during an ongoing ethics investigation.

portlandon on October 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

“There’s no smoking gun,” said West Virginia Democratic consultant Michael Plante. “There’s no revelation here now, there’s no indication of who is involved or why they’re interested. But it certainly makes for interesting chatter around the state capital.”

Yeah, why would a governor know what was going on in his own office? I mean really, doesn’t he have better things to do than get contracts for people with connections? Why on earth would anyone at all think that the governor or anyone he even knows is involved in corrupt no-bid contracts just because it involves his personal office space? Where he goes. Every day.

Gotta be a coincidence.

Lily on October 27, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I always think something like this will sink a Democrat, but than you have to remember Murtha continually getting elected in Pennsylvania & Charlie Rangle winning his partys nomination during an ongoing ethics investigation.

portlandon on October 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Don’t look at the Democrat. Look at the territory. Murtha’s district is gerrymandered. Rangel’s district is, well, Harlem. Both of them were always going to be safe.

KingGold on October 27, 2010 at 1:43 PM

A ten-point swing in a week? That seems rather odd to me.

That’s too big a swing in a race where nothing particularly noteworthy has taken place.

JonPrichard on October 27, 2010 at 1:55 PM

The corruption thing had better catch on fire FAST… not much time left.

stenwin77 on October 27, 2010 at 1:59 PM

From the poll writeup:

Among those who Somewhat Disapprove of Obama’s performance, Manchin has a 2-to-1 advantage.

Don’t these imbeciles understand that a vote for Manchin is a vote for Obama’s policies?

angryed on October 27, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Don’t these imbeciles understand that a vote for Manchin is a vote for Obama’s policies?

angryed on October 27, 2010 at 2:02 PM

eh, they’re victims of their own laziness, ignorance and decades of media propaganda.

I leaned democrat until I started actually researching stuff myself. It was like someone hit me with a brick when I realized how subversive the media has been, and how corrupt Washington, in particular democrats are.

The evidence of democrat corruption is everywhere, sometimes out in plain sight but the media either spins it or ignores it.

People that rely on newpapers or the standard ABC, CBS and NBC channels for news are hopeless.

The only hope is like me they sense something is wrong and will start doing research themselves.

darwin on October 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM

This could be corruption

Did Betty McCollum Release Classified Information During 21 Oct 2010 Debate?

Nearly Nobody on October 27, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Is there a Governor’s race? If so look at that point spread to find the truth.

BruceB on October 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM

If we are the “right wing”, the democrats are the “corrupt wing”…

right2bright on October 27, 2010 at 3:16 PM