Joe Manchin, the governor of West Virginia who’s running for U.S. Senate, seemed to have a pretty easy road ahead of him. His GOP opponent — most likely John Raese — will try to tie him to President Obama, but Manchin is pretty popular in his state.
Well, it turns out there’s a bump in that road:
Gov. Joe Manchin‘s office confirmed today that state government officials have been contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office this week regarding an ongoing investigation. The target may be Manchin himself, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous.
According to Manchin Spokesman Melvin Smith, federal authorities contacted state officials for information regarding an ongoing investigation. Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, Smith was unable to say more at the request of attorneys.
“The State is cooperating fully,” said Smith in a phone conversation.
According to the government source, Manchin was subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation. The subpoenas asked for contracts and records for businesses that have done work at the governor’s mansion as well as provided services for parties there. The investigation is into whether Manchin has complied with bidding and state contract requirements.
Perhaps this turns out to be nothing. Or perhaps this turns into a supremely inconveniently timed indictment.
Would this be a big issue in the Senate race? On the one hand, this is the state that kept reelecting Rep. Allan Mollohan to the U.S. House, no matter how dark the clouds of suspicion above him grew. On the other hand, Mollohan lost his primary earlier this year.
UPDATE: Ethical problems weren’t the sole reason Mollohan lost his primary, but I think it’s safe to say that support of Obamacare and ethics problems turned into a formula for defeat in his primary:
Oliverio, who has spent two decades in the state Legislature, targeted Mollohan on ethics in his TV advertising. That appearance of corruption, in the context of the current national environment, tilted the race his way, sources said.
Mollohan was investigated by the Justice Department last year for the rapid expansion of his personal wealth. No charges were filed.