While Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey travels around the state proclaiming his dedication and superior service as AG, there are some who question his claims.
Morrisey, of course, is running for Governor in 2024. He cites the recent multi-million dollar opioid settlement as one of his biggest accomplishments as Attorney General.
Some wonder if Morrisey has missed the courtroom on other issues, however. There are also questions as to outside attorney fees even in the opioid matter.
We covered the concerns of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse in an earlier story. To say CALA Director Greg Thomas is not a Morrisey cheerleader is an understatement indeed.
Thomas believes the outside counsel fees are exorbitant.
We also extensively covered the AG’s lack of involvement in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of state prison inmates.
While Morrisey was motoring around the state in his Governor bid, he failed to defend the state’s interest in that case. His absence arguably resulted in a default judgment because prison employees allegedly destroyed subpoenaed documents.
Governor Jim Justice and his Chief of Staff Brian Abraham later said the files were not missing, after all.
Nitro attorney Harvey Peyton said Morrisey had failed to file a “notice of appearance” in that case. Had the AG followed the practice of his predecessors, his office could have conceivably come to the state’s defense before the judgment was ordered.
Maybe the AG was tied up fighting the NCAA’s decision not to give a West Virginia University athlete a waiver to allow more playing time. That’s definitely important to all state taxpayers, including us Marshall supporters.
Peyton said Morrisey’s pattern of not assigning Assistant Attorneys General to state-involved lawsuits resulted in the default judgment in the prison conditions case. That will likely cost the state millions, according to Peyton.
Unlike prior AGs, it seems the current officeholder does not routinely assign his staff to those cases.
The result can be expensive to the state, as Peyton observed.
In addition, others wonder if Morrisey’s selective method of instituting legal action on behalf of the state is also costly to state taxpayers.
A major example was recently raised by a reader. He wondered why this state’s AG didn’t sue DuPont Chemical for releasing PFAs into water systems, as his counterparts in Kentucky and Ohio did.
The reader was puzzled as to whether Morrisey put political expediency ahead of his job in making that decision. I, too, am curious.
For those unfamiliar with PFAs, it is a term used to identify “permanent pollutants” of water supplies.
In early June, media outlets like The Hill reported that DuPont, Chemours and Corteva chemical companies had “got out from under a little bit of the civil litigation brought against them, reaching a $1.185 billion settlement with 300 local water systems that had sued the companies for the costs of cleaning and filtering their wells and aquifers.”
Yes, friends, that’s $1.185 billion with a “b.”
As noted, the Kentucky and Ohio AGs are among those who have sued. Significantly, many of these suits claim pollution originates at the DuPont plant in Parkersburg. And I don’t mean Parkersburg, Ohio or Kentucky.
That seems important since this Parkersburg is in West Virginia. The suits generally allege that the pollutants make their way along the Ohio River to downriver locations in other states.
One would surmise, since Morrisey and West Virginia have not sued, that inexplicably no pollutants come to this state, where they actually originate.
There is, of course, no scientific evidence to explain how the PFAs get downriver to Ohio and Kentucky without passing through West Virginia.
One theory to explain Morrisey’s actions holds that the AG is courting political favor with the chemical polluters.
It’s interesting to note that West Virginia Republican U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and her Democrat colleague, Tom Carper of Delaware, are working on bipartisan legislation on the subject, as well.
The pair are “looking to tackle a class of chemicals called PFAS that are known to linger in the environment and have been linked to health issues including cancer, weakened immune systems and high cholesterol,” according to The Hill.
However, a draft bill they released is getting opposition from “green” groups.
Capito and Carper say that Congress needs to do something to address the chemicals, “which have been found to be pervasive in U.S. waterways and in the blood of 97 percent of Americans,” according to the outlet.
We will wait to see if Morrissey ever takes any action on this to protect Mountain State residents.
An Attorney General spokesman said he would “look into the issue” when questioned about it late last week.
Get your coats and hats ready. It gets cold in a Bluefield winter.
Governor Jim Justice plans to celebrate the opening of a three-mile section of the much-ballyhooed King Coal Highway on December 13.
The section will be celebrated at John Nash Boulevard near Bluefield.
It’s an approximately $68 million project funded by Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.
Ah, so that’s where the money went.
Wayne County Republican Delegate Henry Dillon could be the poster child for an old axiom, often credited to Mark Twain.
(Okay, it’s also commonly said that Abraham Lincoln originated it but I refuse to give the nation’s dictator credit for anything).
The adage is simple. It’s “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
A recent Dillon letter is but the latest in a string of public utterances that remove “all doubt” regarding the Wayne Delegate.
A few months ago, he ripped and opposed funding for the new Marshall University state-of-the-art Institute for Cyber Security building.
This is the same Marshall University that is a model of success in the state. The Cyber Security Institute will keep this region on the cutting edge of cyber development and create hundreds of jobs.
It is the centerpiece for economic development in the region where Dillon’s district is located.
Statehouse sources say Dillon opposed funding the building because he dislikes MU President Brad Smith. The Delegate brands Smith as a flaming liberal. In his tiny mind, that may be the worst description the Bible-quoting Dillon can lay on another human being.
After his required Biblical quote, Dillon begins his colorful letter. Who it is addressed to is debatable although some media outlets ran it as an op-ed piece. Those folk must be in desperate need of letters from elected officials.
“We have a problem. We are upside down. On the waters of human events, our ship of state has capsized. As our people cry out for help, our ‘captains’ are too busy looting the vessel to help anyone onboard,” Dillon writes.
I guess he’s calling his super majority GOP colleagues thieves. How else can those words be interpreted?
“The response from our captains of state? A special session to appropriate hundreds of millions more in frivolous spending and special projects, while providing only $12 million to cover all fire departments across the state–and not a dime for EMS (Emergency Medical Services),” says the Delegate.
So, he’s ticked off about lack of support for volunteer firemen and Emergency Medical Service personnel, apparently. I think a majority of state and district residents would support him on that note.
He follows up by criticizing “the WV Uniparty establishment (that) cherishes its special projects and Chinese-style cronyism and economic planning over the lives, livelihoods, and values of our people.”
Dillon goes on, “As Thomas Jefferson stated, ‘Merchants have no country.’ As it stands, the special interests–the ‘merchants’–control all levels of government in WV, and business is brisk.”
The Delegate then jumps to his thoughts on Jefferson County, which is geographically about as far as one can get from his district and still be in the state.
He sums things up by saying, “(Jefferson County) Prosecutor Matt Harvey is attempting to remove two duly elected Jefferson County Commissioners from office–for doing their jobs in a way that he does not appreciate.”
While Dillon is fairly accurate in most of his Jefferson comments, observers may wonder when he’ll start offering advice to the Wayne and Cabell Commissions – or some other government unit.
Finally, Dillon has not gotten over the February 69-25 vote by which the House voted to provide $105 million in funding for the Form Energy battery plant in the Northern Panhandle.
Dillon was one of the “no* votes.
He stays true to the thinking of many in the group of 25 that opposed the plant.
Outwardly, they questioned the role of government in funding private enterprises. As a lifelong Republican, so do I.
More privately, they oppose businesses they link to “radical leftists,” because it has several liberal investors.
Frankly, as long as good-paying jobs are created, I don’t much care who the investors are. At least they’re willing to take a chance on the Mountain State.
Still, Dillon’s epistle highlights the position of many far right wingers on these issues.
Those are just some of the reasons delegates like Dillon will face opposition in next year’s primary. GOP House leadership clearly supported the Form plant and they’re not happy with opponents of the deal.
A potentially divisive primary election is only five months away.
Charleston attorney Mychal Sommer Schulz has announced his candidacy for the nascent West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Schulz, who has been a West Virginia attorney for more than 30 years, announced the campaign last week.
Schulz is the second person to file papers to run for the position. Charleston attorney Steven Ryan White filed pre-candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s office earlier.
Schultz is an attorney at Babst Calland’s Charleston office. He received his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia before getting his law degree at the College of William and Mary in 1992.
The ICA, which began hearing cases last year, is a three-judge panel, and each of the judges serve 10-year staggered terms. Schulz is running for the seat occupied by Judge Thomas E. Scarr, who was appointed to a two-year term but has said he will not run for the full 10-year term on the 2024 ballot.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey has filed pre-candidacy papers to seek re-election.
She has served as a circuit judge since 2002 and was elected to the position three times.
In 2008, 2013, 2017 and 2022, she served as the chief judge of the Kanawha County Circuit.
Bailey pre-filed in Division Six, which is the seat Ashley Deem had already indicated she would seek.
Deem currently is deputy clerk of the Court of Appeals.
She told The West Virginia Record that her plan hasn’t changed.
“I assumed Jennifer Bailey would seek yet another term when I filed to run months ago,” Deem told The Record. “Many said she would take her retirement after decades in office, having been appointed by a liberal Democrat governor more than 20 years ago.”
Deem definitely pulled no punches in this (wink, wink, nod, nod) non-partisan contest.
“I am the only Republican running for this … seat,” she said. “Kanawha County will get to choose between a new direction and the ways of yesteryear.”
Ouch. That may be about as tough as a judicial candidate can get and remain in good standing.
Decorum, ladies. Let the race begin.
Deem had about $40,000 in campaign funds at the end of September. Bailey has not had a financial report due since she filed.
California Congressman Tony Cárdenas has announced his retirement next year.
The lawmaker said he’ll probably use his “energy and experience to maybe do something [different]” that doesn’t entail “traveling to DC to work 32 weeks each year.”
Uh … last time I checked, there were 52 weeks in a year. So this Representative admits he’s not needed in DC for 20 weeks per year?
And they’re paid how much?
Oh I know, he works back home in the district during those “off” weeks.
Meanwhile, Republican Kanawha County Delegate Chris Pritt’s wife, Kelly Christine Pritt, has pre-filed for Family Court Judge.
Delegate Pritt still has not returned repeated phone calls and messages asking for confirmation that he’s no longer running for Secretary of State, as many friends have reported.
While early reports said Chris Pritt has decided to run for re-election, a source close to him said late last week that he is running for “a different office.”
Maybe he’ll keep it as a secret from voters until the election’s over.
Incumbent Kanawha Family Court Judge James Wilson Douglas has pre-filed for re-election.
On the subject of Morrisey, he and his wife Denise seem to enjoy making it appear the AG is a longtime supporter and pal of former President Donald Trump.
Yet, Morrisey’s Governor campaign is supported by not one, but two “Never Trump” organizations.
How anyone can pose as a Trump confidante and have the open backing of “Americans for Prosperity” and “Club for Growth” is difficult to imagine.
Thus far, the Attorney General is pulling it off.
Perhaps their camaraderie with Trump is explained by recent polling done by consultant Mark Blankenship. It found that 75% of West Virginia Republicans would not vote for a candidate who opposed the former President.
In what will likely become a warmup for a future WWE wrestling event, Buffalo Republican Deborah Deweese has filed for the House from Putnam County.
She will be challenging that well-known former Hooters girl, Delegate Kathie Hess-Crouse, in District 19.
Crouse reported about $5,000 in her campaign account as September ended.
Deweese has not had a financial report due yet.
To say these two ladies are bitter enemies is probably not adequate to describe their relationship.
They are part of the division in state Federation of Republican Women.
Hang on to your hat as we watch this one together.
Kris Warner is inviting everyone to join him on Thursday, December 7th, at 6pm at the WV Culture Center for a Campaign Announcement.
Warner will likely make it official that he is running for Secretary of State. Those close to Warner say he was moved to run after Doug Skaff changed parties and announced his intentions to seek the SoS seat. Skaff most recently was the Democrat Minority Leader of the House before resigning the position and then changing parties.
Kris Warner has been a leader in the Republican party for more than 20 years and many credit his work as WVGOP Chairman as the turning point for the party. Warner was insistent on recruiting candidates to fill the ballot.
While it isn’t required in order to attend, Warner’s campaign team has said you may RSVP at www.kriswarnerwv.com.
Also at the announcement event will be a watch party of the MetroNews governor’s debate which will feature Mac Warner, Moore Capito, and Chris Miller. Patrick Morrisey has refused to participate in this debate.
Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or firstname.lastname@example.org