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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Did The WV Secretary Of State Delete Public Records With No Explanation

Is Natalie Tennant Overwhelmed With Politics And Her Job As WV Secretary of State Jack Swint - Publisher

“Open and engaging government. It is not just a saying for me, it is what I believe, it’s who I am and it is my approach in serving West Virginia….I view an open and engaging government as being transparent where citizens can see what their elected officials and their agencies are doing and in turn give feedback and interact with government more easily...” Excerpt from Natalie E. Tennant, WV Secretary of State Mission Statement.
Since our story last week on acting Governor Tomblin’s reported ties to questionable Florida business partners, certain records have disappeared from the SOS files. Now, new e-mails are pointing to other problems within Natalie Tennants office.

Credibility (on last weeks story) hinged partly on documents that were provided to us through a confidential source in the Secretary of States Office. Those records show Earl Ray Tomblin registering and or reserving the name “International Network Solutions, LLC” in March of 2010. At the time, Tomblin was president of the state senate. Keeping these corporation and LLC records is one of Tennants duties and responsibilities as directed by the WV Constitution.

One day after the story was published, the documents mysteriously disappeared from the Secretary of States database. SOS Natalie Tennant removed them without any explanation to state officials, the general public and or media who have made inquiries why the documents were there one minute, and gone the next.

If we hadn’t had an original, and also made copies as a PDF file, it would have forever erased any link between Tomblin and International Network Solution LLC, their corporate owners and that trail of companies, businessmen and billionaire political fundraisers that reach across the globe.

If Tennant’s office incorrectly filed the paperwork in the governor’s personal business records, it would be her responsibility as the SOS to not only correct the problem, but to explain what occurred since so many people had already viewed and or copied the file (after our story posted), just to see it disappear hours later.

If Tennant intentionally removed the documents in an attempt to cover-up the true facts or mistakes, then she has definitely violated her oath of office and responsibilities as the Secretary of State. But, it’s doubtful from past experiences that anything would be done about it.

In fact, this author was contacted by one Charleston Newspaper reporter who had just viewed the documents and then a few minutes later said… “Wow… They did just take it down.” But, like other people he also said…”I may have saved the document on my computer because I was looking into it.” We created a PDF file of the documents before they were erased and have sent out approximately 73 e-mail copies to readers who requested them. Including 3 requests from the WV State Senate.

E-Mail Responses Raise Additional SOS Problems

E-mails we received in response to the story and the disappearance of the Tomblin documents also raise questions of other problems that may exist in Tennants ability to effectively run her office.

One of the simplest SOS responsibilities is turning into a complete nightmare according to lawyers across the state. As one prominent attorney from Charleston wrote; “there is a growing concern from attorneys across the state that the SOS office is not adequately able to accept and serve papers in its statutory position of effectuating service on foreign and domestic corporations or non-resident drivers (under the "long arm statute"), which is a fairly routine mail based procedure."

He goes on to say... "Keep in mind that they don't have to effect personal service-- all they have to do is mail out the notice to the person listed on their records and send confirmation back to the requesting party. Which begs the question again: How do you screw that up?” West Virginia Code and the West Virginia Supreme Court Rules of Civil Procedure assign the duty of service of process on specific businesses, persons and other entities to the Secretary of State. All service made by the Secretary of State is made by certified or registered mail.

Our source in the SOS’s office confirmed and stated it is an ongoing problem. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg here.”

One e-mail, from a current state official (not running for the governor’s office) questions Tennants decision to even run for WV governor since her only experience in government work is two years in the Secretary of States office? That she had no management training at all. “Tennant was basically thrown into the position after winning the election and only had one person she could call on to answer questions and point her in the right direction. No one really expected her to win.”

Who has been her closest allie? Fellow Marion County mentor Joe Manchin. “We know for a fact, she is still calling on Joe Manchin for advice on how to run her own office. Is he going to run the governors office if she somehow gets elected?” He goes on to write that… “Several former & elected officials have even referred to her sarcastcally as Natalie Manchin.”

Note: Tennants college education is a degree in Journalism and master’s degree in Corporate & Organizational Communication. Until becoming SOS, her work career was in TV broadcasting for 10 years and she and her husband Eric Wells (WV State Senator) started their own business, Wells Media Group LLC.

Another e-mail response sympathized with Tennants situation as being both a candidate for governor and her day to day SOS responsibilities in a non-direct capacity ensuring the election remains fair and honest. “I wander if back in 2008, if Tennant could have seen into the future of the complete chaotic fiasco that is occurring right now in this states political arena, if she would still run for the Secretary of States Office? Or any political office?”
Here is how one WV elected official summed up the current situation of our upcoming governors race.
“Manchin really left us with a mess by setting up a mid-election-cycle election. What a total narcist-- bailed out on his obligations as governor to effectively appoint himself as Senator. Sticking a placeholder temporarily in the job so that he could seek the position for himself was totally unconscionable. I would respect it if he would have appointed a real Senator and then run for the position himself in 2012, but he placed West Virginia second to his own aspirations by doing what he did.
Now we're stuck with the cost of an unnecessary election and the total mess of having everyone and their brother running for the office because none of them have to give up their current political positions to be in the race. Sadly that means that the person with the most name recognition will probably win (that is what happens when there are too many people on the ballot), which means that qualifications and competence to hold the office are totally out the window.

It also means that if we get a total doofus nominated on the Democrat ticket then Betty Ireland will march to victory in the fall and Manchin (Democrat in Name Only) can take credit for awarding us another Republican governor. But that's not so bad; because at least a Republican needs Democrat votes and has to be nice to us. With Manchin in there, he could take the Dem votes for granted and just walk all over them. Oh well.”
In closing….

For whatever reason WV Secretary of State Natalie Tennant deleted the records contained in Earl Ray Tomblin’s personal business records last week will most likely never be explained. If it had been a simple error, an explanation would have resolved the issue. Luckily, a large group of people had viewed the documents linking Tomblin to “International Network Solutions LLC” and its two officers who have direct business ties to US and foreign based companies tied to questionable political fundraising.
If it was a deliberate cover up, that will soon unfold since the documents have all been sent to the US Attorneys Special Investigation section in Washington DC.
E-mail responses we received from the story itself, point to other problems and concerns inside of the Secretary of States Office. Is the position, responsibilities compiled with the unforeseen governor’s election this year to much for the SOS? She has only been in the position two short years with no political or real management training beforehand.
End Of Story... for now.
Jack Swint - Publisher
Earl Tomblin Story
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