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Don’t let the calendar enable corruption

Reports on corrupt public officials are a regular part of life in West Virginia. Why on earth would we want to give them any breaks?

We do, though.

One effective watchdog against corruption is the state Ethics Commission. It has substantial power to investigate complaints against public officials and employees, and some authority to punish those who stray from the straight and narrow.

But for the commission to take action, a complaint must be filed with it within one year of an alleged ethics violation. In other words, if you can beat the calendar, you may be able to get away with some infractions — though outright crime can be handled by prosecuting attorneys.

A bill introduced Feb. 11 in the West Virginia House of Delegates, HB 4915, would extend the ethics commission deadline to 10 years after infractions. Del. Marshall Wilson, I-Berkeley, sponsored the measure.

Legislators should approve HB 4915. Crooked public officials and employees — or even those who knowingly cut ehtics corners — should find no friend in the calendar.

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