Political opponent seeks transparency in W.Va. senator’s trial delays
MOUNDSVILLE — A newcomer to West Virginia politics has thrown down the gauntlet to his opponent in the November election by calling for transparency into the incumbent senator’s legal troubles for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.
Josh Gary spoke before a small gathered crowd Wednesday morning at the Marshall County Courthouse, announcing that he had authored a letter to the state Supreme Court seeking disclosure of legal records in the case against Michael Maroney, who was arrested last year on prostitution charges.
Gary said he sent a letter outlining his request, which he said he filed through the Freedom of Information Act.
Maroney was charged last August for allegedly soliciting a prostitute on multiple occasions in Glen Dale last year.
The first-term Republican representing Marshall County in the state Senate was originally scheduled for trial in late 2019 before being postponed several times.
As of Wednesday, Maroney is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 19 before Magistrate Tom Wood.
Gary, who is seeking the Senate seat while running as a Democrat, said the number of delays in Maroney’s trial stand out when compared to the numerous other men charged in the prostitution ring brought down by Glen Dale police. Those defendants were charged and fined months ago.
“The criminal case that my opponent has been entangled in has been going on for over a year, while others in that case have had their cases adjudicated and settled. His has been continued on and on. Why is this?” Gary said.
“There have been at least three people who have come up to me in the last months and said, ‘We have asked for access to the case files in that case,’ and they have been told no again and again. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to be one, but I do know that, in this state, the public has a presumptive right to see these files.
“Why are they being told no? Is it because of his title? His wealth? Or his important position in the state Senate? Any way you look at it, it would be wrong.”
Neither Marshall County Prosecutor Rhonda Wade nor Maroney’s attorney, Paul Harris, responded to calls seeking comment on the matter.
Gary also welcomed Maroney to meet him in open debate on the issues at the location of his choosing, inviting Maroney to the courthouse steps for the public to see. Gary, who is a history and civics teacher at John Marshall High School, drew on historical precedent for “great debates” in American history.
“Let him come anywhere he wants, I’ll be there, anytime, anywhere. … Out in public, so people can see them a safe distance,” he said.
“Debates are a hallmark of any great democracy. They’re especially a hallmark of our republic. People need to be able to see their candidates discuss their issues, the matters of the day. … It’s important in every election, especially in this election.”
Gary also briefly spoke of the importance of supporting police officers, in light of some national attention for reducing funding for law enforcement in favor of reallocating that money to other agencies at the municipal level such as schools or social services.
“I am completely against the idea of defunding our police,” he said.
“If anything, our police officers need more. The state police, county sheriffs, need more funding for tools to help fight crime, to train, to retain officers all over our state. Our officers go above and beyond the call of duty every day, and they should be thanked for that.”
Gary has not sought political office before, but currently serves as the president of the American Federation of Teachers Marshall County chapter, along with his career as a teacher.
He won the Democratic primary in June, narrowly beating out Carla Jones, with Gary taking 5,663 votes to Jones’ 5,349.