Where Facts And Controversy In The News Come Together In Truth

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WV Commission President Accepts Contributions But Won’t Pay Back Taxes

Blair Couch's Campaign Taking In Cash From Major Corporations Including The Bank He Defaulted Loans On... by Jack Swint

The Wood County WV DuPont Plant, and several of its executive employees, have donated a combined total of  $4,000 towards Blair Couch’s reelection bid as county commissioner. E.I.Dupont is his largest company contributor on the list, with $1,000 from its "Good Government Fund." Plant manager Karl Boelter also donated $1,000. Other DuPont executive contributors include, $1,000 from Robert and Annette Fehrenbacher, $500 from Scott Dansey, Sabic plant manager, $250 each from Robin Ollis Stemple and William V. Summers, Jr.

Combine those donations with the recent DuPont fundraiser on August 22, 2012, the company and its executives have donated approximately $6,000 to Couch’s war chest. So, why is DuPont behind Couch’s reelection bid? What could they benefit in donating thousands in cash and becoming involved in county politics?

It could possibly have to do with Couch’s opponent in the election, Attorney Harry Deitzler. DuPont has a vested interest and probable fear of keeping Deitzler as far away from the Wood County Commission as possible. Why? So, Deitzler can’t sit in a position to oversee, regulate and enforce laws that would ultimately effect the current water pollution problems and clean up caused by DuPont's water contamination known as C-8 or Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

It was Harry Deitzler and his co-counsel who brought litigation in Wood County, WV, to force DuPont to clean up the water that the company intentionally contaminated without permission from, or knowledge of, the affected residents. Dupont’s cost for the necessary cleanup to get the Dangerous C-8 chemical out of the water, along with the related health studies to protect the residents, exceeded $100 million.  Sadly for the residents, their disease and death risk related to the Dupont’s C-8 contamination of their air and water continues.

The impartial C-8 Science Panel found links between the residents’ C-8 exposure and thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia.  The panel studied the medical records of nearly 70,000 affected residents and will return its final report as to all other C-8 linked diseases on October 29, 2012.  Separate from the C-8 Science Panel, in June of 2005, a United States Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board announced a preliminary finding that C-8 is a likely carcinogen (cancer causing substance) in humans.

Other Interesting Contributors

Parkersburg’s United Bank President Richard Adams also made a sizable contribution of $1,000 to Couch’s reelection bid. Adams is president of the Bank that lost thousands of dollars on defunct loans made to Blair Couch that he failed to ever pay off. Other United Bank officers that contributed were Joe Wilson $100 and Steve Wilson $100. Ironically, it was Steve Wilson who granted Couch at least one loan that the county commissioner defaulted on.

Also, United Bank is where the county commission keeps most of the counties bank accounts, with millions of dollars in them.

Couch’s Still Delinquent County Taxes

According to county tax records, Blair Couch has not made any attempt to pay his $16,000 in back taxes. In fact, with interest, he now owes $17,308.16. Back in May of this year, we published a story about Couch’s tax problems and defunct bank loans that the Parkersburg Newspaper then wrote a story on. In the Parkersburg article, Blair Couch made excuses for not paying over $16,000 in past due personal property taxes that his Hertz rental business owes in Wood County.

Which is also the same county where he serves as commission president.

Couch asserts that, although he continues to run essentially the very same Hertz rental business, (same location, same sign and same vehicles), he thinks that since he changed the business name, he's technically operating a different business. Under that assumption, Couch feels he does not have to pay the overdue taxes for the time when he operated the Hertz rental business as A. W. Couch, Inc. According to records at the Secretary of States Office, the business is now called "DC Fleet Sales."

But, Couch did state that even though he feels he does not owe the money, he made assurances, in that news article, that he would pay the taxes because "it's the right thing to do." A recent check of County records shows that he has not paid anything on the overdue tax bill. In the past, the Wood County Commission has hired attorney Andrew Woofter to collect delinquent business taxes, but no action has been taken by Woofter or the tax department to collect the monies due from Couch.

When his first Hertz rental business defaulted, there was collateral attached to the loan(s) in the form of his home. But, United Bank never called in the collateral. According to one source, “It is is doubtful that the house could ever have been sold for even the amount still owed. The bank probably would have lost more money by taking it than it would have lost by allowing Couch to keep making payments on the house.”

A second deed of trust on Couch's house, September 30, 2005, is at Book 1315, page 586, shows that United Bank officers James Hayhurst and Steve Wilson granted Couch a credit line secured by the deed of trust on Couch's residence.  “I suspect that this is the credit line to A.W. Couch, Inc, which Couch failed to repay to the bank,” says the source.

Subsequently, on February 10, 2006, Couch apparently borrowed more money from United Bank, secured by the two properties that he had purchased on 17th Street (one of which being the lot that he bought from Urban Renewal).  The deed of trust from Couch to United Bank is at Book 1340, Page 78.

In closing,

Wood County Commission President Blair Couch not only owes these back taxes, but he has been making personal assurances to pay them for several years now. He promised again as recently as May of 2012. He has yet to pay anything on that debt! If this had been you or me being so delinquent in our taxes over several years, the county would have done everything in its power and authority to have those monies paid long before now.

Including, having the Sheriff sell your property on the courthouse steps to settle that debt. Why can Couch be excluded from that law?

Another question that has gone unanswered is, why United has allowed Couch to use his totally mortgaged home at United, as collateral on additional lines of credit?  No bank would ever let an ordinary citizen have a line of credit on those terms. If it was after he became a commissioner than he could be in trouble because elected officials are not allowed to use their position for personal gain. But then again, not collecting the taxes that he owes because of his position as a county commissioner already meets the threshold for the “Hobbs Act.”

Finally, ask yourself this, if Blair Couch can’t keep a promise, that he made in public, to satisfy his delinquent debts. What other promises is he making to the residents and businesses in Wood County that he also won’t keep?

End Of Story….

Jack Swint-Publisher
West Virginia News
E-Mail:  WestVirginiaNews@gmail.com
Website: http://WVNewsOnline.com
Blog: http://WestVirginiaNews.blogspot.com
Twitter:  @WVNewsOnline
LinkedIn: Jack Swint


Original Story On Commissioner Blair Couch

Parkersburg Newspaper Article

DC Fleet Sales (Blair Couch)


Anonymous said...

Your right, it is NOT FAIR that Blair can get away with not paying his delinquent taxes. Why hasn't the Sheriff's tax department come after him?

They would if I was behind that much and for that long.

As far as the donations, it is possible DUPONT doesn't want Deitzler elected.

As for United Banks people donating Couch money. Thats their own stupidity!

Doug said...

Couch has always done whatever he wants and no one has the balls to do anything about it!

Including the Sheriff!!!!

Anonymous said...

Neither Sheriff Sandy, his tax people or the ethics board will do anything to Blair Couch. He will probably get reelected and keep on doing the same thing.It is a shame that the people of Wood County put up with such a crook.

His promises dont mean squat! You can tell that by his refusal to pay his taxes and his loans. Must be nice!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Swint,

I have just finished reading your commentary re: "WV Commission President Accepts Contributions But Won’t Pay Back Taxes."

I have been a life long resident of Wood county and know almost every one of the individuals you speak of in the piece. I find it sickening that we deal with two faced individuals on a daily basis. Thanks for exposing these facts.

Another "link" that you may not be aware of: Andrew Woofter III, the attorney who is hired to collect delinquent business taxes....his father is a retired bank officer from, you guessed it, United Bank. Maybe that is why "no action has been taken by Woofter or the tax department to collect the monies due from Couch."

Anonymous said...

Two things that were in the Parkersburg News article , that have been left out of this article IMO are very important .1. Mr Couch can't make payments on this tax bill , the bill has to be paid in full. 2. There is some question as to if he really owes the bill in the first place . A.W. Hertz was a Hertz franchisee started by Couch's grandfather and left to Couch's son David , Blairs father who has died . Hertz all over the country has been disolving their franchisee agreements , AW Couch was left without assetts after Hertz took over and left Blair as manager of the Parkersburg operation he is an employee not the owner.The Couch's are a wonderful family a generous family and not the villans as portrayed in this article . E.I duPont is the counties largest taxpayer , they have enhanched generations of Wood Countians thru employement , community giving (which they keep low key and is alot of money) the ancillary benefits such as power,phone,local vehicle dealerships, office supplies and so forth . C-8 has leeched into the water table was not poured into the river with careless disregard as some may want you to believe.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (above) forgot to mention how the Parkersburg paper did not mention the defaulted loans Couch has with United Bank.

Also forgot to mention that Couch is not just "an employee" of Hertz. He has been president of the Corporation that also sells vehicles at the Hertz lot. And that his family owns the lot the business sits on and rents it to the company.

DuPont knew they were dumping the chemicals into the water. They test the water on at least a weekly basis and have been for years. It was no accident. Had been going on for years.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to Blair Couchs "DC Fleet Sales" business. According to the Secretary of States records, the business is one that deals in: "Real Estate and Rental and Leasing - Rental and Leasing Services - Automotive Equipment Rental and Leasing."


Josh said...

And here is the link to Swint's original story on Mr Blair Couch from earlier this year. Interesting read.


West Virginia News said...

To the person who made the comment above that Blair Couch is just an "employee" at the Hertz business.

Here is Blair Couch's description of what his position is at Hertz & DC Fleet Sales, which are located together.

Owner/Operator, DC Fleet Sales providing Hertz Car Rental and Penske Truck Rental
services to the Mid-Ohio Valley.


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