The head of the West Virginia Department of Revenue has issued a directive that orders the state racing commission to continue providing its own legal services, including a dedicated member of the state Attorney General's office.
The provision in a controversial interagency agreement approved in late June basically allowed West Virginia Lottery Commission attorneys to handle racing commission business. Horsemen's groups in the state were concerned the lottery commission would end up controlling the West Virginia Racing Commission.
The Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association filed a writ of mandamus claiming the interagency agreement—at least the part on legal services—violated the state constitution. The state Attorney General's office also took issue with it.
The Martinsburg Journal reported July 17 that Robert Kiss, secretary for the Department of Revenue, sent a letter to the lottery commission that said the interagency agreement is valid, but it isn't necessary to include legal services. He ordered the lottery commission to not provide legal assistance to the racing commission, effective immediately.
Senior deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott has handled legal and policy issues for the racing commission for several years.