Tilting at Windmills

July/August 2012 A bit too obvious

By Charles Peters

The job of general counsel of the West Virginia Educational Association, the teacher’s union in my home state, recently became vacant. “We had an opening and saw this as an opportunity to hire a highly qualified, well-respected attorney,” explained the association’s president. He was describing Rick Thompson, who just happens to also be the speaker of the House of Delegates, the lower house of the state legislature. Even in West Virginia, where conflicts of interest tend to be viewed charitably, having the speaker of the house simultaneously serve as a union’s general counsel proved to be too much for the state ethics commission to stomach. It has refused to give its approval of the appointment.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.