Earlier this year, billionaire West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s family farm accepted $125,000 in federally funded agriculture bailouts around the same time he attempted to evade paying millions in delinquent taxes on his multiple properties and business enterprises.
The bailout funds received by Justice were designed to alleviate the ongoing financial losses endured by American farmers amid Trump’s ongoing trade war with Beijing. But in 2019 Forbes Magazine tabbed Justice’s net worth at approximately $1.5 billion, raising questions about why a wealthy businessman was willing to accept over a hundred thousand in cash that could have been appropriated to other farming organizations in greater financial need.
Furthermore, according to reporting by the Associated Press, Justice Farms — the Justice-owned farm receiving the payments — was the largest recipient of federally funded soybean subsidies in West Virginia, vastly outnumbering the median payments rendered to other farming organizations throughout the state.
And while Justice was reeling in money from the ag bailouts, he was outright refusing to pay over $2 million to multiple Virginia localities on his properties and businesses. Individual counties typically use the revenue earned from property taxes to fund local schools, infrastructure updates and measures that benefit the community-at-large.
In Roanoke, Virginia Justice-owned properties consistently owed more delinquent taxes than other properties in the city. According to the city’s treasurer, Evelyn Powers, Justice refused to pay the taxes until city authorities threatened to sell the properties. “That got some attention and they came in and paid all of that tax up,” Powers said in July 2019.
In 2020, Justice is seeking reelection as West Virginia Governor.