McMechen Volunteer Fire Department Purchasing Practices Under Scrutiny From the West Virginia Ethics Commission
McMECHEN — The purchasing practices of the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department have come under the scrutiny of the West Virginia Ethics Commission after it came to light that it was buying items from a company owned by the fire chief.
According to an advisory opinion issued March 7 by the ethics commission, McMechen’s VFD made repeated purchases of equipment from a business owned by Fire Chief Jeff Kady, who serves as chief of the volunteer fire department as well as being the city fire chief.
The city then reimbursed the VFD for the purchases made. According to the opinion, these purchases were made as a result of votes by the VFD board, which included Kady in the decision-making process.
West Virginia Code states in several places that public officials or employees are prohibited from using their office for personal gain or for the advancement of a family member.
“A public official or public employee may not knowingly and intentionally use his or her office or the prestige of his or her office for his or her own private gain or that of another person,” the code states.
Additionally, the code also states that if a public official has an interest in the profits or benefits of a contract, the official may not participate in a government decision affecting their own financial interest.
As a result, the state ethics commission determined that the office of fire chief, and Kady by extension, are subject to the restrictions in the West Virginia Ethics Act as a part-time official. Furthermore, the commission advised that Kady must remove himself from participating in purchasing decisions regarding his company, and that even without his participation, Kady’s business cannot be preferred.
The ethics act also prohibits the city from reimbursing the VFD for purchases made with Kady’s involvement.
Neither McMechen Mayor David Goddard nor City Attorney Ben Visnic responded to repeated requests for comment. Kady could not be reached at VFD headquarters.