Republicans are blasting the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its planned lawsuit against the coal empire of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice II, who is mounting a Senate bid against embattled incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The charges relate to civil lawsuits ruled against Justice and other fees that he allegedly hasn't paid.
However, some find the timing of the charges—which relate to years-old civil suits going back before the Biden administration—to be suspicious, coming as they do just weeks after Justice announced a campaign against a top GOP target during the 2024 election season.
Justice, a second-term governor who won his most recent election with 63 percent of the vote, recently announced his intention to run for Manchin's Senate seat. Manchin, the only Democrat in the Senate who describes himself as a "conservative Democrat," is still well to the left of deep-red West Virginia.
In a Senate cycle already shaping up to be rough for Democrats, with as many as ten Democrats on the defensive, Manchin's seat is considered one of the most vulnerable.
Justice's campaign immediately condemned the move, describing the move as a purely political one.
"Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and the Democrats have seen the polls that show Jim Justice winning this race, and they're panicking," campaign manager Roman Stuffer said in a statement. "So now the Biden Justice Department has decided to play politics."
Stuffer opined that the move seems calculated to help Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Justice's top competitor for the GOP nomination—a candidate Stuffer said would be worse positioned to take Manchin's seat.
Mooney framed the issue differently.
"Jim Justice's long history of ripping off hardworking West Virginians, not paying his bills, and actions leading to the garnishment of his wages predate the Biden Administration," Mooney said. "This is another embarrassment for our state."
Asked about charges that he's being boosted by the Biden administration, Mooney replied: "Jim Justice is resorting to personal attacks because he knows that Alex Mooney's values align with the people of West Virginia, and he's 100% conservative, unlike himself and Joe Manchin who were both cheerleaders for Biden’s reckless spending.
"The choice in this race is clear."
Most other Republicans, however, said it seems to be the latest in a long line of abuses by the DOJ.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) commented on the charges in a statement to The Epoch Times: “Unfortunately, we cannot trust Merrick Garland’s DOJ to apply justice equally in America.
"Is this civil action politically motivated to help Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate?" he mused. "It’s a shame that this is a very legitimate question."
The DOJ did not return a request for comment.