Ojeda says VA leak derailed his congressional bid

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former Army Maj. Richard Ojeda says his West Virginia congressional campaign was derailed by a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who’s charged with leaking medical records.
The former Democratic state senator and one-time presidential hopeful filed suit against the VA on Thursday. He’s seeking documents relating to the agency’s investigation of former claims assistant Jeffery S. Miller.
Federal prosecutors have accused Miller of unlawfully accessing and sharing the medical records of an unidentified public figure. Miller’s lawyer didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.
Ojeda’s filing identifies himself as the public figure mentioned in the federal case against Miller. He says his medical records were distributed among high-ranking Republicans in a bid to hurt his 2018 race against current-Rep. Carol Miller.
A spokeswoman for the congresswoman says Carol Miller isn’t related to Jeffery S. Miller. She says the congresswoman has never seen the medical records and knew nothing about the matter.
Ojeda’s lawsuit says the VA’s investigatory documents will “prove a concerted effort to undermine his candidacy and forever damage his reputation.”
Miller defeated Ojeda in the race for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District after a key endorsement from President Donald Trump, who carried the district by nearly 50 percentage points in 2016. Trump won the entire state by 68 percentage points.
Just days after losing to Miller, Ojeda announced he was running for president in 2020. He stepped down from his state Senate seat so he could campaign but then abandoned his presidential bid after about two months as a candidate, saying he wasn’t getting enough money or attention.

WV sheriff’s deputy found guilty of falsifying documents

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia sheriff’s deputy has been found guilty of falsifying documentation of payments made to confidential informants.
News outlets report former Harrison County deputy Timothy Rock was found guilty Thursday of 17 counts of falsifying accounts and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony.
A male informant testified during the trial that Rock allowed him to have some of the heroin from a drug bust instead of receiving vouchers for pay for his informant work.
Also during the trial, former Chief Deputy Jeff McAtee testified that former Sheriff Albert Marano became aware of accusations that Rock paid confidential informants with heroin and didn’t conduct an internal investigation.
Marano told The Exponent Telegram he didn’t have a comment.
Rock faces sentencing in October.

Deadly virus detected in West Virginia white-tailed deer

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a deadly virus has been detected in white-tailed deer in southern West Virginia.
The state Division of Natural Resources says in a news release that the deer were found dead in Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties. It says a lab confirmed the presence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in carcass samples.
The statement says the DNR is trying to determine the extent of the outbreak statewide.
The virus is carried by biting flies and causes rapid death from internal bleeding. No vaccine is available for infected animals. There are no known health risks to humans. The virus disappears after the flies are killed by the first frost.
Landowners and hunters are urged to report sick or dead deer to their local DNR district office.

West Virginia man accused of aiming airsoft gun at officer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Police say a West Virginia man who pointed a realistic-looking airsoft gun at a police officer has been charged with threatening a terroristic act.
The Charleston Police Department says Charles Norman Miller was arrested Thursday after officers received a report of an armed man outside a house in the city’s West Side. A police spokeswoman says a nearby elementary school was put on lockdown as a precaution.
Authorities say the 31-year-old quickly dropped the weapon after aiming it at an officer who arrived in a squad car. Police determined Miller was holding an airsoft gun without an orange safety tip or any other features that would make clear it wasn’t a real firearm.
Miller has been jailed. He doesn’t have a lawyer yet.

Second lawsuit accuses doctor of sexual misconduct

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A second lawsuit has been filed against a West Virginia doctor accusing him of sexual misconduct.
The Register-Herald reports the lawsuit filed Thursday says the female patient was sexually assaulted in June by Dr. Zouhair Kabbara at Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley. Both the hospital and the doctor are named in the suit.
Beckley attorneys Steven New and Amanda Taylor said in the suit that their client began seeing Kabbara for undisclosed health issues in May.
The newspaper reports that hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Mitchem wasn’t available for comment and a woman answering the phone at Kabbara’s medical office said he was unavailable.
A 15-year-old girl and her father filed suit Monday saying the girl and at least 20 others were sexually harassed by Kabbara at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
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Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com

21 states sue Trump administration over new coal rules

By DON THOMPSON and ADAM BEAM Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A coalition of 21 Democratic-led states sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its decision to ease restrictions on coal-fired power plants, with California’s governor saying the president is trying to rescue an outdated industry.
In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eliminated the agency’s Clean Power Plan and replaced it with a new rule that gives states more leeway in deciding upgrades for coal-fired power plants.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, says the new rule violates the federal Clean Air Act because it does not meaningfully replace power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
“They’re rolling things back to an age that no longer exists, trying to prop up the coal industry,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference. He said the lawsuit was not just about Trump but “our kids and grandkids” who would continue to be harmed by coal pollutants.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whose state produced the second most coal behind Wyoming in 2017, predicted the lawsuit will ultimately fail at the U.S. Supreme Court, which stayed an earlier Obama administration attempt in 2016 at the request of a competing 27-state coalition.
He called the lawsuit a “big government ‘power grab'” and argued that the Democratic attorneys general “are dead wrong” in their interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
The U.S. EPA and White House issued similar statements saying they expect the new version to survive the court challenge, unlike the Obama-era rules.
“Unlike the previous administration, which crafted a far-reaching, burdensome, and unlawful rule that would have raised energy costs on hardworking American families, the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule responsibly protects our clean air, reduces greenhouse gases, protects jobs, and keeps costs affordable,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
“The science is indisputable; our climate is changing. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Weather is becoming more and more extreme,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the coalition, said in a statement. “Rather than staying the course with policies aimed at fixing the problem and protecting people’s health, safety, and the environment, the Trump Administration repealed the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with this ‘Dirty Power’ rule.”
The states were joined by six local governments: Boulder, Colorado; Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and South Miami, Florida.
The EPA’s analysis of the new rules predicts an extra 300 to 1,500 people will die each year by 2030 because of additional air pollution from the power grid. But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in June said Americans want “reliable energy that they can afford,” adding he expected more coal plans to open as a result.
“It’s more of a fossil fuel protection plan,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
It would replace the Clean Power Plan, which would require cutting emissions fossil fuel-burning power plants. Becerra said that was expected to eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million cars a year, the equivalent of 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars, and was projected to prevent up to 3,600 additional deaths annually.
Newsom and James said states’ existing efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are beginning to work while creating green jobs and vibrant economies.
In the Northeast, 10 states including New York formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that has reduced power plant emissions by more than 50 percent.
California’s power grid used more energy from non-greenhouse gas sources like wind and solar power in 2017 than from electricity generated by fossil fuels for the first time since the California Air Resources Board began keeping track. The board also found that pollution from transportation did not rise as fast as in previous years, and reported that 2017 was the second straight year emissions fell below the state’s 2020 target.
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This story has been corrected to say 21 states have filed the lawsuit plus the District of Columbia.

HIV cases in West Virginia county rise to 71

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia officials say the number of HIV cases in Cabell County has risen to 71.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources posted the figure on Monday, saying the virus has spread primarily among intravenous drug users.
The cluster, tracked since January 2018, represents a drastic increase from the baseline average of eight cases annually over the past five years. Officials confirmed last month that one person associated with the cluster has died.
Dr. Cathy Slemp of the state Department of Health and Human Resources told The Register-Herald that there haven’t been any indications that the cases have spread outside Cabell County.
The health department says it is working to find gaps in health care and prevention coverage.

Ex-West Virginia correctional officer convicted in drug plot

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former West Virginia correctional officer has pleaded guilty in a scheme to smuggle methamphetamine into jail.
John Edward Roach II entered the plea in federal court in Charleston to possession with intent to distribute meth.
Court records show an inmate asked Roach to use his position as a corrections officer to smuggle meth into the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston. Roach was paid $2,000 and given 4 ounces (113 grams) of meth by an undercover agent posing as a drug trafficker and was arrested before the meth was taken into the jail.
Roach faces up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced Nov. 6
Roach also has been charged in state court with delivery of a controlled substance.

Former WV teacher to serve time for student sexual assault

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia teacher is going to prison on accusations she had a decade-long relationship with a former student and eventually had children with him.
Ohio County Judge Michael Olejasz’s office says the Wheeling Park High School teacher, 42-year-old Elizabeth Harbert, entered an Alford plea Tuesday, meaning she acknowledges there’s enough evidence for a conviction, but doesn’t admit guilt. Harbert faces five years in prison and 10 years’ probation.
The Wheeling News Register reports a lawsuit brought by the now-28-year old victim accused Harbert of beginning a relationship with him when he was 13 and she was his teacher.
The student filed the now-dismissed lawsuit in 2018 and criminal charges followed. A suit against the school board is ongoing.
Halbert has alleged the former student actually abused her.

West Virginia delegate resigns to take lobbying job

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Del. Jason Harshbarger is resigning from the legislature to become a lobbyist for Dominion Energy.
The Republican from Ritchie County submitted a resignation letter to the speaker of the House of Delegates on Wednesday. He’ll leave his post Aug. 30.
Harshbarger is the House’s assistant majority whip and chairman of the committee on natural resources. He also sits on the energy, judiciary and industry and labor committees.
A Dominion Energy spokeswoman says Harshbarger will become the company’s state policy director but won’t lobby the legislature until a year after his resignation date. He has been working for Dominion for 14 years.
Gov. Jim Justice will choose a replacement to serve the rest of Harshbarger’s term from a list of names submitted by the district’s party executive committee.