The United States Department of Justice is investigating an allegation made against Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, a West Virginia State Police official confirmed. The county commission meets at the Kanawha County Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)
An investigation into an allegation made this spring against Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper has been referred to the United States Department of Justice, a West Virginia State Police official confirmed Wednesday.
Carper is the subject of a criminal investigation for what his daughter has called an “allegation of inappropriate conduct” in a parked vehicle at or near Daniel Boone Park in Charleston on May 15.
Virginia Carper, in a statement May 19, said her father’s confusion and illness, including a stroke and heart attack leading to surgery that week, were “misinterpreted as being something inappropriate.”
The City of Charleston previously confirmed the police investigation. In the hours after the alleged incident, Carper sent an email offering a job to an administrative assistant for the commission, the reported girlfriend of the responding officer.
Logan County Prosecutor Dave Wandling, who was appointed to handle the investigation, said last month he had referred it to the West Virginia State Police for an independent review.
West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Jack Chambers said Wednesday that in addition to the State Police, Wandling had also reached out to the U.S. Attorneys Office as well.
“That investigation is being run by two state troopers through state court and also with the federal nexus as well,” Chambers said.
Chambers said law enforcement’s role in the matter is to gather facts and present them to the prosecutor. Despite knowing Carper, Chambers said he would be fair.
“I think most people who know me would tell you that I’ll be fair and honest and we’ll present the facts how they are, no matter who you may be,” Chambers said. “I’m not influenced by that and, like I say, the final decision as far as charges would be up to federal/state prosecutors or federal/state grand juries.”
Wandling said Thursday he was aware of Chambers’ comments, but that can’t confirm that the Department of Justice is involved in the investigation or that he had asked the US Attorneys Office to investigate.
A spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of West Virginia said that, “in keeping with Department of Justice policy, this office ordinarily does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation or otherwise comment about any investigation.”
In a statement Thursday, Charleston attorney Jesse Forbes, who represents Carper, said Carper was still recovering from health issues, including stroke, heart attack, and open-heart surgery involving a quadruple bypass.
“We remain confident that the truth regarding the health issues suffered by Commissioner Carper and the media reports regarding May 15, 2023 will be demonstrated following the work of Special Prosecutor David Wandling,” Forbes said. “At this time the Special Prosecutor continues that work, and it would be inappropriate to comment further while those efforts are ongoing.”
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