December 13, 2023
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney
P.O. Box 729
Charles Town WV 25414
Dear Prosecutor Harvey,
This is an open letter to question and analyze why you are continuing with the petition to remove my local Commissioner, Tricia Jackson, as well as my Commissioner Jennifer Krouse.
Ostensibly, your action was to compel Jackson and Krouse to return to work. Now that they have returned to work, why have you not dropped this petition?
Is it your job to determine who the rightfully elected representatives of Jefferson County residents are? No, it is not. That is the job of the voters. I, as a voter, do not want Commissioner Jackson and Commissioner Krouse removed. Also, you bring charges against Jackson and Krouse as if they have committed some crime, when in fact their actions were a protest against corrupt activities by a government official. Would not the normal order of business be for a crime to have occurred, and then for a jury of peers to decide if that is indeed the case? The Constitution provides for a clear separation of powers. Voters should decide about matters regarding elected officials. Yet, without any criminal activity occurring, you are seeking to remove my elected officials from office. This is wrong.
It is also very ironic that the person who is the instigating cause for the protest action of Jackson and Krouse is actually the person who has huge conflicts of interest. Even if they do not rise to the legal definition of a crime, which as we know, is open to interpretation, they still certainly are conflicts of interest. These conflicts of interest affect the welfare and well-being of all citizens of Jefferson County. Should not this be acknowledged and probed further to see if the financial interest of Stolipher in solar development is self-dealing that causes harm to the citizens of Jefferson County?
In your petition, you cover extensively how Jackson and Krouse are only thinking about their own agenda. However, that is false. They are thinking about the well-being of the whole county and its residents, not just a select few people.
One thing you do not mention at all in your petition, is the main reason that the entire situation came about to begin with. That one thing is the railroading of industrial solar development in Jefferson County by Steve Stolipher and his cronies. The main action that is behind this whole situation are Stolipher’s refusal to put discussion of the Solar Text Amendment on the County Commission Agenda. No doubt, Stolipher, was not happy with the removal of the Solar Text Amendment by Jackson and Krouse’s votes on September 7, 2023.
One point that you should be investigated is the huge conflicts of interest that Stolipher undeniably has. Whether some ethics committee panel decides that conflicts of interest rise to their interpretation of being legally acceptable, they are still conflicts of interest. To give a current example, President Biden continues to say that he has no conflicts of interest regarding his decision making process. Yet it is an incontrovertible fact that he has many conflicts of interest with regards to payments to his family from foreign entities in Ukraine, China and other locations.
Stolipher has multiple conflicts of interest regarding solar development. First, as a real estate agent, he makes commissions off of the sale or leasing of properties. Since solar farm leases are for up to 35 years, this will be a substantial amount. For example, if the real estate agent negotiating the $15,600,000 35 year lease for the Wild Hill Solar project hypothetically received just a 3% commission, that would amount to $468,000.
The current Comprehensive Plan specifies preserving the rural nature of Jefferson County, and does not support industrial scale solar farms on rural lands. County Judge Deborah McLaughlin expressed this in striking down the April 21, 2021 Comprehensive Plan text amendment. By lobbying during the 2022 Legislative Session for HB 4553, Stolipher is supporting state legislation that attempts to skirt local zoning regulations by allowing solar farms in any zoning district anywhere in the state as a matter of right. This is in direct contradiction to his responsibility as a County Commissioner to represent the best interests of all of his constituents, not just a handful of large landowners and farmers. In other words, this lobbying is self-dealing.
In conclusion, I urge you to drop the petition attempting to remove County Commissioners Jackson and Krouse. They have been looking out for the best interests of all of the citizens in Jefferson County. If voters want to remove Jackson and Krouse they will decide that issue at the ballot box at their next reelection.
Harpers Ferry, WV