Webster County Senator Robert Karnes (Republican) is in a lot of hot water.
The Charleston Gazette recently uncovered facts which show he is illegally holding office as a State Senator as he did not meet the minimum eligibility requirements when he was elected in 2014.
Article 4, Section 4 of the West Virginia Constitution states that no person shall be elected to state office unless they have been a resident of West Virginia for at least five years prior to their election.
Karnes voted in Florida in 2010. To be eligible to vote in Florida, a person must declare he is a resident of that state. Obviously, since he declared his Florida residency when he voted in 2010, he had not been a resident of West Virginia for the required five year period "next preceding" his election in 2014.
In short, Karnes is illegally holding office in West Virginia and needs to be removed due to such illegality.
When a Gazette reporter asked Karnes if he voted in Florida in 2010, Karnes lied to the reporter denying the same. His denial is an obvious falsehood, as the Robert Karnes who voted in Florida has the same exact birth date of Senator Karnes and listed a Florida address which, you guessed it, is the same address used by other officers of his Florida-based business.
To show Karnes' guilty conscious in this matter, consider this fact: The day before the Gazette article was published on May 27, 2017 uncovering his ineligibility to hold office, Karnes cancelled his Florida voter registration. What a hypocrite. Karnes is clearly trying to defraud the voting authorities in either or both West Virginia and Florida.
But Karnes' obvious guilt in this matter does not stop there. When an Upshur County Delta Record reporter questioned Karnes about his ineligibility, and whether he voted in Florida in 2010, this was his response:
"Yeah, I really don’t have any idea. I can’t swear that I didn’t. It’s not something I’m going to go back and look at. I have no idea if I did or not. I have a life, and that’s really not the obsession of my life. It’s not really an important factor as far as I can tell. Is this a hit job? I thought you wanted to talk about the issues and what we were doing down here (in the state Legislature). I don’t really want to hear about this.”
Of course Karnes does not "want to hear about this." He does not want the public to know he defrauded them when he ran for State Senate in 2014 knowing he was ineligible. And as to his squirming comment that he does not recall whether he voted, because "it's not really an important factor," why is he in public office if voting is not important?
The West Virginia Constitution provides a process of removal on grounds of official misconduct and incompetence. It was official misconduct for Karnes to accept the office of State Senator when he knew he had not been a resident of West Virginia for the required five years. Karnes is also incompetent (in many ways) because he was not such a five year resident. While incompetence is not defined in the West Virginia Constitution, a legal meaning from Black's Law Dictionary (a gold standard in defining the legal effect of words) provides that incompetence is "the condition of lacking power to act with legal effectiveness." Karnes cannot legally exercise the powers of his office as he was ineligible to run for that office in the first place.