Charleston, WVa – Does a new power grab by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s wife endanger the groups she serves as an officer?
If Denise Henry Morrisey is attempting to choose House of Delegates members now, how much more power will she wield if her husband is elected governor?
Is the West Virginia Federation of Republican Women attempting to subvert the lawful authority of an elected local district delegate committee?
Those are just three of many questions raised regarding the replacement of Greenbrier County’s 46th District Delegate who recently resigned.
In addition, a letter to the Governor has one county GOP Executive Committee Chair calling both the author and Mrs. Morrisey “flat-out liars.”
The issue arose with the resignation of Delegate Michael Honaker of Greenbrier County. He resigned to accept appointment by Governor Jim Justice to be the Inspector General of Homeland Security.
The Republican Honaker’s resignation from the House touched off a replacement process. An early step in the procedure is the recommendation of three potential replacements. Under state law, the replacement must be of the same political party as the departing House member. That party’s district delegate committee is charged with submitting the three names to the Governor. The replacement process ends with the Governor appointing the replacement from the three nominees. In the current situation, the District Delegate Committee met and sent the only three applicants along to Governor Jim Justice.
The next development, however, is not normally a step in the procedure.
A letter sent to Justice is what triggered Greenbrier County Republican Chair Ben Anderson’s characterization of “liars.” Anderson is perturbed because he says Denise Morrisey and the letter writer are “interfering with the legal appointment of a member of the legislature.”
Dr. Jeani Hawkins, President of the West Virginia Federation of Republican Women, signed the letter. It begins by informing Justice that the federation would “love” to share input on the replacement for Honaker. Hawkins writes that the list includes “two very capable women” along with the lone male nominated. The letter continues with a glowing rendition of why the federation thinks the women are qualified. The two, Sue Spicer and Dana Payne, are clearly preferred over the male, Jeff Campbell.
Anderson said he has “no problem with them advocating for the women,” although other party officials are suggesting the group should stay neutral in an intra-party selection process. That would mean endorsing none of the three but perhaps advocating positively for all.
Another member of the Greenbrier committee, who asked to remain anonymous, told a reporter that Denise Morrisey is “behind that letter.” The source said, “We’ve all been told that Denise says it has to be a woman. She thinks she is the boss of all of us.”
While Attorney General Morrisey lives in the Eastern Panhandle, his wife claims residence in Greenbrier.
Denise Morrisey is an internationally renowned lobbyist.
Others on the Greenbrier committee have voiced earlier complaints that she is “trying to bully us all and run the party.”
Mrs. Morrisey also makes waves by insisting on bringing her dog, often in a baby carriage, to formal state, national and local GOP gatherings.
While Anderson is not necessarily criticizing the kind words about the two females, he takes “grave exception” to perceived negative remarks about Campbell also in the writing.
“They are just flat-out lying about him and I won’t be silent when that happens,” Anderson said.
The letter points out that Campbell “has been a Democrat until 2020.”
To that, Anderson responded, “So what? That’s three years. They should be glad he’s a Republican now and applaud him for that. It’s not like he did it last week.”
Still, Anderson was most ticked off by this comment: “he (Campbell) has not been active with the Greenbrier County Republican Committee.”
The Chair elaborated. “That’s just not so. Jeff has helped with everything the committee has done the past three years. I should know, I’ve worked with him.”
Hawkins failed to return repeated phone calls for this story.
Among the questions intended to be asked we’re:
* What prompted the state federation to get involved with this appointment when they have not interfered in others?
* When was Denise Morrisey elected to the federation board as an at-large member? According to the bylaws that requires a vote by the Executive Board. We reached out to the federation secretary and a past president who confirmed to us that that no meeting was held and no minutes reflect the election of Mrs. Morrisey.
* Was Attorney General employee Pam Krushansky (also a WVFRW officer) involved in the purported appointment of Denise Morrisey to the board?
* Have the Morrisey’s donated to the federation?
* The federation dissolved its Political Action Committee status earlier this year. How does involvement in the selection of a Delegate not fit the definition of “political action?”
As this story is written, sources are telling us formal complaints of election law and campaign finance violations will be filed with the appropriate authorities.
This is a developing story that will be updated as events warrant.