Collect Fine From Fired W.Va. Mayor

While he was mayor of Dunbar, W.Va., Roger Wolfe spent municipal funds on items not approved by his city council, and received illegal reimbursements for personal expenses. He was booted out of office in 2008.

Wolfe has been fined more than $26,000 for unethical conduct while in office – but for months, he has refused to pay up. That has prompted members of the state Ethics Commission to turn the matter over to a professional debt collector.

What an absurd – and unacceptable – situation.

The overwhelming majority of those whose cases are reviewed by the Ethics Commission go along with its rulings. Rarely is there a need to fine offenders.

Wolfe is quite an exception. He refuses to acknowledge the facts of his case or the commission’s ruling. Now he says he won’t pay the fine.

Ethics commission members should do whatever it takes to collect the money. Without enforcement power, the panel’s rulings would be adhered to only by conscientious public officials, not the tiny minority who know they are wrong and don’t care.

Wolfe should be compelled to pay up, as a warning and deterrent to other public officials.