West Virginia State Police have confirmed their investigation of Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell.
Yesterday, the River City News Network reported the cover-up of a scandal involving Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and members of the administration. For several weeks, media bosses, government officials, and politicos have been in possession of a flash drive documenting an affair between Newell and the city finance director. The drive contains text messages, emails, photos, audio and video recordings – many of which are adult in nature.
WV State Police Lt. Michael Baylous said a preliminary report concluded the material was “personal information belonging to the mayor” and nothing criminal in nature.
However, the story doesn’t end there. After all, the State Police are not the Morality Police. Sources have confirmed that the matter is still under investigation by a number of state authorities.
Rob Cornelius, chairman of the Wood County Republican Party, says the problem is not that two consenting adults had an affair, rather that if all of the items on the disk are what they appear to be, the mayor was having a long term sexual affair with a subordinate (in this case the vice-mayor) on taxpayer time and at the expense of taxpayers.
“Abusing trust, time and money this way, it’s a real concern,” Cornelius said.
Public records available on the city website reveal that the finance director saw an increase in pay of $1,486 from 2013 to 2014. In fact, finance director Ashley Flowers made nearly $7,000 more in 2014 than her predecessor did in 2011. From 2013 to 2014, other salaries in the finance director’s office have increased by a total of more than $26,500.
The city has had its share of troubles with the department. In 2009, then finance director Randy Craig was fired in an embezzlement scandal. In January 2012, Craig’s replacement, Doug Life, resigned following his arrest on a drunken driving charge. Ashley Flowers worked in the office as an assistant finance director, but left in October 2013. She was rehired and appointed to the job of director early in December 2013 after city council re-classified the job and raised the pay in November of that year at Newell’s request.
Newell again declined to comment.
Tomorrow: How did the flash drive come to exist?