Marshall University baseball gifted $10 million—of CARES Act funds

Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr contends that another $246,088 of the emergency COVID relief funding was partially used to cover a minibus for Appalachian Bible College.

West Virginia’s governor is honored to play a small part in building Marshall University’s new baseball stadium, but one official believes he is “grossly” misappropriating a huge chunk of COVID-related emergency funding to do so.

In a letter to the Treasury Office of the Inspector General, West Virginia Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr details Gov. Jim Justice’s approval of moving $28.375 million in remaining federal CARES Act funds to a state discretionary fund, $10 million of which Justice donated to Marshall University’s turf baseball field project.

Another $246,088 was apportioned to Appalachian Bible College for a minibus and for rewards to winners of a COVID-related state sweepstakes.

“Please consider this an inquiry as to whether West Virginia Governor Jim Justice grossly misappropriated and misused $28,375,985.43 CARES funding provided to the State of West Virginia on non-COVID-related expenses such that it would violate federal law/regulation, violate ethics standards, or would be subject to claw back at some time in the future for improper application,” wrote Senator Eric Tarr.

The Coronavirus Aid and Economic Relief (CARES) Act allotted West Virginia $1.25 billion of its $150 billion purse to the state. Any remaining monies not used by Sept. 30, 2022, had to be returned to the federal government. Before the deadline, however, Tarr explains the remaining balance was transferred to Gov. Justice’s Gifts, Grants and Donations fund.

In defense of the expenditures on Marshall University, General Counsel Berkeley Bentley claims that the state had spent $28.4 million on COVID expenditures to corrections and homeland security, so they were reimbursing themselves with the leftover federal dollars. Testimony from Jeff Sandy, Cabinet Secretary of West Virginia’s Department of Homeland Security, refuted this. He claimed that the COVID-related expenses had already been reimbursed, according to Tarr.

“Hence the Governor converted at least more than $10,000,000 in funds received from the CARE Act to giveaways not even remotely related to COVID-19 and claimed it as reimbursement for Department of Corrections expenses that had previously been reimbursed,” Tarr wrote. “Given this information, is a federal investigation warranted?”

Tarr is seeking independent investigation from the Treasury Department, and he also detailed that he is sending a related letter to the Department of Revenue Office of the Inspector General, the Southern District Prosecutor and the West Virginia Ethics Commission.

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Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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