Justice calls for Del. Jeffries' resignation

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Jul. 10—Gov. Jim Justice is calling for the resignation of Delegate Joe Jeffries, who recently posted a video on a social media platform that included an explicit discussion of advice for women receiving oral sex.

In February, Jeffries was the lead sponsor of House Bill 2157, which proposed to eliminate teachings on sexuality and forbid displays relating to sexuality in public schools.

This is not Joe Jeffries' first brush with controversy. In April, as various news agencies have reported, he interrupted state senators in a committee meeting, making vulgar reference to the governor's anatomy. The governor demanded an apology, but it never came.

On Saturday, the governor said, "The pattern of behavior by Delegate Joe Jeffries is sad and it's childish. Not only did he yell graphic comments about me to a group of senators during the recent Legislative Session, but now we find that his not-so-secret TikTok is full of disgustingly vulgar videos, which are especially insulting to women.

"This is the behavior of an immature child, not a 39-year-old father and elected official," the governor said. "He owes our entire state an apology for not living up to what we all deserve and expect from our elected officials.

"I assumed that by this morning we would have received that apology, but all he has done is hide from the media and the criticism.

"So today I am calling on Joe to immediately resign from the House of Delegates. The people of West Virginia, and certainly those in Joe's district, deserve much better."

The original video is no longer available to the general public without receiving permission from Jeffries.

In this past session, Jeffries was spotted at different times at the statehouse wearing a mesh mask despite Gov. Justice's order to follow safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeffries sponsored House Bill 2869, which sought to remove mandatory mask mandates throughout the state.

Jeffries was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2018. He is 39 years old. His current term ends on Nov. 30, 2022. His professional experience includes working as a maintenance manager and truck driver.

When he first ran for the House in 2018, he was endorsed by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Coal Association, West Virginians for Life, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, West Virginia Citizens Defense League, West Virginia Business and Industry Council, West Virginia Nurses PAC and West Virginians for Health Freedom.

This past session, he served on four committees including the Government Organization Committee, chaired by Brandon Steele of Raleigh County.

He has been assigned to serve as vice chair of the Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services Committee for the 2021-2022 term and was set to work on both the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee and the Energy and Manufacturing Committee.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, called Jeffries' activities an embarrassment, referring to prior issues that the governor mentioned as well. Hanshaw stripped Jeffries of his committee vice chairman position on Friday.

In his own prepared statement on Friday, Hanshaw stated, "I believe Joe Jeffries is an embarrassment not just to the House of Delegates, but to the entire state. He has shown us more than once that he does not respect the office he was elected to serve. I am but one member among 100, and his constituents will have the opportunity at the ballot box in 2022 to decide whether he represents them as they wish."

Justice agreed with Hanshaw, saying Jeffries is hurting the state's image.

"His actions are casting another shadow of negativity on West Virginia, which is something we certainly don't need," the governor said. "Our state is breaking surplus records, attracting new businesses, and moving forward in absolute leaps and bounds because people are waking up to the fact that we are the diamond in the rough that everyone missed. We don't need this kind of nonsense to distract us from achieving more success."

Other Republican organizations were lining up against Jefferies as well.

On Friday night, the West Virginia Republican Party released a prepared statement that called Jeffries' behavior unacceptable and, "Through his poor judgement and actions, Delegate Jeffries has brought shame to himself, his office, his constituents, and our Party."

The statement said that party leaders have reached out to Jeffries and "demanded that, at the very least, he publicly apologize for his lewd conduct."

Earlier on Friday, the Putnam County GOP Executive Committee issued a statement saying it "very strongly condemns the content of the video published by Delegate Jeffries."

"Content of this nature does not represent the values of the Putnam County Republican Party. While all American citizens are entitled to their right to freedom of speech, the Putnam County Executive Committee expects our public representatives to conduct themselves with professionalism on all public forums."