Patrick Morrisey’s Governor’s fundraising efforts request donors to help retire debt dating back to his 2012 election to Attorney General. In this race, Morrisey who had a brief legal career lobbying after being a Congressional staffer, personally loaned his 2012 campaign more than $1.2 million dollars. In his 2016 race, he then added an additional $525,000 in personal loans to the campaign.
He has kept these campaigns financially open with the Secretary of State, reporting in the first quarter of 2023 that between the 2012 and 2016 campaigns, he owes himself more than a million dollars. He did not incur any debts in his 2020 election, however, his use of this debt retirement loophole was covered previously after his failed 2018 Senate challenge against Senator Joe Manchin.
This loophole in campaign finance regulations allows the candidate to solicit the largest possible contributions from donors. Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center told the Associated Press what happens next equates to “a legal form of money laundering.”
Debt retirement donations aimed at debt from previous cycles do not count against the maximum contribution limits of the current election, but are subject to the donation limits from the campaign year in which the loan occurred. Individual contributions in West Virginia are now $2800 per cycle, in 2012 and 2016 they were $1000. In most cases, once the candidate has received payment back for the old loan, they initiate a new loan to the campaign for the same amount.
Morrisey has detailed his humble upbringing in New York and New Jersey. He has made it a point when campaigning to make this known as he works to relate to the average West Virginian. Morrisey also criticized former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for financial transparency issues in the 2018 Senate Race.
Prominent Republicans are again raising significant concerns regarding Morrisey’s background and his wife’s lobbying ties. Citing his limited tenure as a law partner before assuming the role of Attorney General, as well as his spouse’s connections to organizations involved in lawsuits against the state settled after his election, these Republicans assert that it is imperative for Morrisey to provide clarity on the origins of nearly two million dollars in loans. The issue at hand demands his attention and a thorough explanation to the voters of West Virginia.
Current Governor Jim Justice’s finances have become the focus of the Senate Race in West Virginia. Justice was ordered by a federal judge last week to provide financial information on his coal companies. He also requested an extension for his Senate financial disclosures. Financial transparency and the personal responsibility of candidates have become leading campaign topics in the 2024 Primary Election.
Second-quarter finance reports for state races are due by July 7th. There are already record-setting amounts raised and loaned in the Governor’s race, with millions pledged by outside groups.