- West Virginia’s only billionaire just won his reelection race for governor.
- Jim Justice’s money comes from coal mining. He’s also the owner of luxury resort The Greenbrier.
- Justice’s companies have reportedly had more than 600 lawsuits filed against them.
- Ben Salango, his Democratic challenger – a county commissioner with a background in law – said in a debate that he hadn’t spend as much time in courtrooms as Justice.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Republican Jim Justice, West Virginia’s governor â€” and its only billionaire â€” handily won his race for reelection on Nov. 3, beating Democratic challenger Ben Salango by more than 34%, per Decision Desk HQ.
Justice has been governor of West Virginia since 2017, when he ran as a Democrat, although he had previously been registered as a Republican. Seven months into his first term, he switched his party affiliation back to Republican.
Justice is worth $US1.2 billion, according to Forbes. His money comes from the coal mining business passed down by his father. Coal and wealth have been closely correlated in West Virginia for over 100 years. The town of Bramwell, for instance, had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the US at the turn of the century, and its Millionaire Row of mansions still hosts tourists today, per the tourism office for Mercer County.
In 2019, the median household income in West Virginia was $US48,850, per the 2019 American Community Survey. That’s almost $US20,000 lower than the national median household income level of $US65,712. And in West Virginia, 16% of people were in poverty in 2019, compared to the national rate of 12.3%.
‘I am not a career politician; I am a career businessman,’Justice once wrote in an op-ed
Justice is also the owner of The Greenbrier, a historic 710-room luxury resort in West Virginia’s White Sulphur Springs. Justice purchased the then-bankrupt resort in 2009.
Since then, it’s hosted politicians like Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the Greenbrier over the summer to deliver remarks on the coronavirus pandemic and hold a fundraiser for the Trump-Pence campaign. And, in 2019, Donald Trump Jr. visited to host a fundraiser for Justice â€” which reportedly netted Justice $US193,454.
The Greenbrier received between $US5 million to $US10 million in Paycheck Protection Plan Loans. The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a members-only club for people who purchase luxury real estate at The Greenbrier, received between $US1 million to $US2 million.
Per Forbes, Jim and wife Cathy had donated $US100,000 to President Donald Trump as of September 2020.
No stranger to legal matters
Justice’s companies have been involved in over 600 lawsuits,ProPublica reports â€” and it’s cost them more than $US128 million. Per Forbes, Justice has had over $US10 million in court orders and $US13 million in “tax-related liens” since 2016.
The Greenbrier, which had hosted golf’s PGA Tour, attracted attention from federal prosecutors in a public corruption unit over the tournament, according to ESPN. The contract between The Greenbrier and the PGA Tour ended in April 2020.
Salango, Justice’s 2020 Democratic competitor â€” and a county commissioner with a background in law â€” reportedly said that Justice “actually has more courtroom experience than I do” during their single gubernatorial debate.
Justice’s office did not return Insider’s call for comment.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.