Contact: Jeffrey Loudin
The Phillips Group
Lost River - Agricultural Commissioner candidate J. Michael Teets called on Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass to offer a thorough accounting to the public following news reports that Douglass has collected half a million dollars in retirement benefits from the state, while also collecting $75,000 a year as agriculture commissioner.
"Gus Douglass owes West Virginia taxpayers an explanation," Teets said. "For nearly 20 years he has collected half a million dollars in retirement from the state while also earning a high-paying salary for the same position. He has been double dipping for nearly two decades."
"I call on Gus Douglass to stand in front of the cameras and face reporters' questions about this shameful violation of public trust," Teets continued. "Under Douglass's watch, the Department of Agriculture has wasted taxpayers' dollars time and again. Now we learn that the biggest offender may be Douglass himself. It is past time for Gus Douglass to explain his actions."
The Charleston Daily Mail, on Friday, reported that Douglass has collected $509,930 in benefits through the Public Employees Retirement System. Douglass "retired" as agriculture commissioner in 1988 after losing in the Democratic gubernatorial primary that year and began collecting a pension. Yet Douglass ran again for agriculture commissioner, at the first opportunity, and was reelected in 1992. He has collected a state paycheck and a pension ever since.
A spokesman for Douglass attempted to excuse Douglass's double dipping by claiming that Douglass, "thought he was done with politics (after his 1988 gubernatorial bid.)." In response, Teets pointed out:
"Gus Douglass could have been truly done with politics anytime after 1988, yet he has run for election five times since them. This is a weak excuse to justify selfish behavior. Time and again, for 20 years, Gus Douglass decided to double dip and come back for another state paycheck. And it's the taxpayers who have suffered.
"We have West Virginia public employees with underfunded state pensions, yet Gus Douglass enjoys the benefits of retirement as well as a handsome state salary. We have West Virginians losing their jobs and their retirement plans as a result of the global economic crisis, yet Gus Douglass enjoys a guaranteed state pension and a guaranteed state paycheck. It's time for the voters to retire Gus Douglass once and for all."
For more information, please visit www.miketeetsforwv.com