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Arch Moore
28th and 30th Governor of West Virginia

In office
January 14, 1985 – January 16, 1989
Preceded by Jay Rockefeller
Succeeded by Gaston Caperton

In office
January 13, 1969 – January 17, 1977
Preceded by Hulett Smith
Succeeded by Jay Rockefeller
Chair of the National Governors Association

In office
September 12, 1971 – June 4, 1972
Preceded by Warren Hearnes
Succeeded by Marvin Mandel
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1969
Preceded by Bob Mollohan
Succeeded by Bob Mollohan
Personal details
Born Arch Alfred Moore Jr.
(1923-04-16)April 16, 1923
Moundsville, West Virginia, U.S.
Died January 7, 2015(2015-01-07) (aged 91)
Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shelley Riley (1949–2014)
Children 3 (including Shelley)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Army-USA-OR-05.svg Sergeant
Unit Infantry, Naval Flight Officer
Navy Reserve
Battles/wars World War II
 • European Theater of Operations

Arch Alfred Moore Jr. (April 16, 1923 – January 7, 2015) was an American lawyer and Republican politician from West Virginia. He began his political career as a state legislator in 1952. He was elected the 28th and 30th Governor of West Virginia from 1969 until 1977 and again from 1985 until 1989. Amid allegations of corruption he ran for reelection in 1988, but was unseated by Democrat Gaston Caperton.

He was eventually prosecuted for and pleaded guilty to five felony charges. In 1990 he was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison. He served over three years before his release. As a result of his conviction, Moore was disbarred and forfeited his state pension. In 1995, he paid a settlement of $750,000 to the state.

Early life

Moore was born in Moundsville, West Virginia, in the state's industrial northern panhandle, the son of Genevieve (née Jones) and Archie Alfred Moore.[3] He briefly attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, before he was drafted for World War II service. He was in the Army Specialized Training Program training to be an engineer, but military manpower requirements changed and he was sent to the infantry. He received a disfiguring wound in the jaw from enemy machine gun fire in Germany, November 1944. Moore was left for dead for two days[citation needed] in a German farmer's beet field[citation needed] after 33 of the 36 members of his platoon died in battle.[citation needed] Sergeant Moore was decorated with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman's Badge and European Theater of Operations Ribbon with three battle stars.[4][5][6][7]

He then entered West Virginia University graduating in 1948 and then from its law school in 1951. While at WVU he was involved with student government and founded "Mountaineer Week," a celebration of West Virginia culture in response to his perception that the growing number of out-of-state students at the school were changing its character. The event has become a permanent part of the school's calendar. He was also a member of the Beta Psi chapter of Beta Theta Pi at West Virginia University and was a recipient of the fraternity's Oxford Cup.

Congressional career, 1957–1969

Moore was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1952. In 1954, Moore made his first run for the US Congress, challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Bob Mollohan, but lost. In 1956, Moore was elected to the seat following Mollohan having vacated it to run for Governor of West Virginia, a race Mollohan eventually lost to Republican Cecil Underwood. In 1962, his district was merged with the 3rd District of longtime Democratic incumbent Cleveland M. Bailey; Moore won by just 762 votes. Moore was subsequently re-elected in 1966, before seeking the governor's office in 1968.

His terms in the House were marked by strong support for public works projects and for civil rights. Moore became the ranking Republican on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Nationality in 1960.

Governor of West Virginia, 1969–1977

The state's Constitution, which had formerly had a one-term term limit and provided for a weak governor system, was amended in 1968 to strengthen the powers of the governor and in 1970 to provide for a two-term limit. Moore became the first person re-elected governor in 1972, defeating Jay Rockefeller. Moore's first two terms as governor are best remembered for improvements in the state's highway system and for the Buffalo Creek Flood disaster. During Moore's first two terms as governor, West Virginia built over 225 miles (362 km) of interstate highways through mountainous terrain and the New River Gorge Bridge, once the world's longest steel arch bridge.

Corruption charges and trial

In 1975 Moore and his 1972 campaign manager were accused by federal prosecutors of extorting $25,000 from the president of a holding company seeking a state charter for a new bank. Both were acquitted in 1976.

Buffalo Creek settlement

In the last week of his second term in 1977, Moore accepted a $1 million payment from Pittston Coal Company to settle accounts from the Buffalo Creek Disaster. The state had initially sued for $100 million, half of which was slated to cover cleanup and restoration expenses. The reduced settlement accepted by Moore did not come close to covering the $9.5 million cleanup costs expended by the federal government; in 1988, these costs were reimbursed by the State of West Virginia. The government had been warned as early as the late 1960s of the instability of the Buffalo Creek gob dams, yet the state failed to take measures to prevent the accident from occurring.

Moore is also remembered for several other incidents stemming from the Buffalo Creek Disaster. After the flood, the governor attempted to use disaster relief funds to build a limited access superhighway through the hollow to connect Logan County with Raleigh County. Several hundred properties were purchased via eminent domain by the state for the right-of-way and a two lane road was reconstructed back up the hollow. The highway, however, failed to materialize. Subsequently, in many cases, the state refused to sell the former owners back their land.

Moore had also made a promise to residents of Buffalo Creek Hollow to construct a community center as part of the rebuilding effort. However, in the end, the center promised by Moore and the State of West Virginia was never built. Arnold & Porter, a Washington, D.C. law firm, handled a lawsuit filed by approximately 600 survivors, which resulted in a settlement of $13.5 million, or roughly $13,000.00 per person after legal fees. Arnold & Porter took a portion of the legal fees paid to them and had the community center constructed in the hollow at their expense.

U.S. Senate race, 1978

In 1976 Moore was term limited from seeking a third term and declined to challenge Robert C. Byrd for a seat in the United States Senate. Instead, he began a two-year campaign for the state's other Senate seat, which was expected to be vacated by the aging Jennings Randolph in 1978. To the surprise of almost all observers, the obviously declining[citation needed] Randolph stood for re-election. His campaign was entirely financed by then-governor Rockefeller, as Randolph's six-year term as Senator and a theoretical second Rockefeller term as governor would both expire in 1984, permitting Rockefeller to run for an open seat. Moore was outspent by 5 to 1 in this election, and lost by 4,717 votes.[citation needed]

Third term as Governor of West Virginia, 1985–1989

In 1980 Moore sought his third term as governor. Rockefeller outspent him by a figure of 20 to 1, and Moore again lost in a close contest.

In 1984 Moore once again ran for governor and was returned by a very large margin, becoming the only West Virginia governor to be elected to three terms in office. He again turned his attention to highways, and saw the completion in 1988 of the last major section of interstate highway in the country, which had been left unbuilt during the Rockefeller terms. He was soundly defeated for re-election in 1988.

Federal conviction

In 1990, after an extensive federal investigation, Moore pleaded guilty to five felonies. He agreed to plead guilty after he was told that federal investigators had taped him conspiring with his former campaign manager, John Leaberry, to obstruct the investigation into his activities. Moore pleaded guilty to an indictment that said he accepted illegal payments during his 1984 and 1988 election campaigns, extorted more than $573,000 from a Maben Energy Corporation, a coal company based in the town of Beckley, and obstructed the investigation. Moore served two years and eight months in federal prison in Alabama and Kentucky and four months of home confinement at his home in Glen Dale, Marshall County.[8]

After his guilty plea, Moore tried repeatedly to withdraw it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rebuffed his attempts to withdraw his plea in April 1991, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused his arguments in October 1995. For the remainder of his life, Moore continued to maintain his innocence.

Personal biography

Moore married Shelley S. Riley in 1949 and the couple has three children. His daughter Shelley Moore Capito is the current junior United States Senator from West Virginia, having been elected to that office in 2014. Prior to her election as a Senator, Capito was the member of the United States House of Representatives for West Virginia's 2nd congressional district from 2001 until her 2014 election as a Senator.

Moore died in Charleston on January 7, 2015, at the age of 91, four days after his daughter, Shelley Moore Capito, was sworn into the United States Senate.[9]

In 2006 former West Virginia Tax Commissioner Brad Crouser, who served during Governor Moore's third term, published the first biography of Moore, Arch: The Life of Governor Arch A. Moore Jr.[10]


  1. Howard, Robert T.. "Arch Alfred Moore Jr., West Virginia ’48". Beta Theta Pi. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  2. Harold, Zack (April 16, 2013). "Former governor Arch Moore turns 90". Charleston, West Virginia. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  3. Mullaney, Marie Marmo (1994). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1988–1994. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313283125. LCCN 93037875. 
  4. Crouser, Bradley A. (March 16, 2010). "Arch Moore – 'a life of public service'". Putnam Rotary News. Scott Depot, West Virginia: Putnam County Rotary Club. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  5. "Arch Alfred Moore Jr.". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  6. "Hard Work, Uphill Fights, Nothing New For Gov. Arch Moore". West Virginia Mountain Messenger. September 1980. p. 5. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  7. "Conspiracy indictments pave road for Moore". Charleston, West Virginia. December 31, 1972. p. 40.  (subscription required)
  8. Ex-West Virginia Governor Admits Corruption Schemes – New York Times
  9. Former WV Gov. Arch Moore dies at age 91
  10. ISBN 978-0972486781.

Further reading

  • Crouser, Brad (May 5, 2008). Arch: The Life Of Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. (Revised paperback ed.). Woodland Press, LLC. ISBN 978-0979323638. 
  • Crouser, Brad (July 15, 2006). Arch: The Life Of Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. (Hardcover first ed.). Woodland Press, LLC. ISBN 978-0972486781. 
  • Moore, Arch A. (2002). Third term. Parsons, West Virginia: State of West Virginia. ISBN 0870126431. LCCN 2002114450. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Mollohan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Bob Mollohan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Cecil Underwood
Republican nominee for Governor of West Virginia
1968, 1972
Succeeded by
Cecil Underwood
Preceded by
Kit Bond
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Robert Bennett
Preceded by
Louise Leonard
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
John Raese
Preceded by
Cecil Underwood
Republican nominee for Governor of West Virginia
1980, 1984, 1988
Succeeded by
Cleve Benedict
Political offices
Preceded by
Hulett Smith
Governor of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Jay Rockefeller
Preceded by
Warren Hearnes
Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Marvin Mandel
Preceded by
Jay Rockefeller
Governor of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Gaston Caperton

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