The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 28, 2013

Review time

A look at new West Virginia attorney general’s time in office

— During his bid to become attorney general of the state of West Virginia last fall, Patrick Morrisey repeatedly criticized the now former AG Darrell McGraw for spending taxpayer money on “trinkets” that bore his name.

He said it was “de facto campaign literature.”

They’re nothing but self-promotional pieces, Morrisey accused.




Even pillboxes (in retrospect, probably not a wise choice, given the status of prescription drug abuse in our state).

Using taxpayer monies efficiently should be foremost in any politician’s mind, certainly.

Whether or not a pencil that bears an officeholder’s name could be viewed as unethical or not — perhaps, but a box of pencils probably never won a candidate, incumbent or not, any votes.

Morrisey, the current AG, might not be buying trinkets. But his nearly daily press releases thumping his chest about the progress he has made in such a short time attempts to serve the same purpose.

It serves to get his name out to the public, via the media.

In an information-hungry society that we live in, many media sources are eager to reprint press releases ad nauseam, many times verbatim.

So, Morrisey and his staff spend a lot of time pumping out releases.

Time paid for by taxpayers, mind you.

Last week, Morrisey provided a progress report of the efforts he has undertaken with his staff during his first 100 days in office. He also stated that the 17 goals he set for his first 100 days in office “have been met or are on their way to being met.”

“On their way to being met...”

Really? Stop the presses!

The progress report was 279 pages long.

For 100 days in office.

It was titled: 17 Point Plan “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

Right off the bat, No. 1 on his list, the report provides actions taken to eliminate self-promoting trinkets, including Morrisey signing into effect his “Trinket Policy” which “generally prohibits the use of public funds for the purchase of self-promoting trinkets.”

He also promises to “prohibit the Attorney General’s Office from using a state car in a parade.”

Wow, the chief legal officer for the state is on a roll.

But the first action item listed as an accomplishment?

Hold your applause, there’s more.

No. 7 is “Take on the EPA” and No. 9 is “Hold a Jobs Summit.”

It seems that priority could have been given to these more vital goals for West Virginia, its economy and its people.

But at least they made Morrisey’s Top 10.

“Crack Down on Medicaid Fraud” and “Fight Prescription Drug Abuse” didn’t. They slipped in at No. 11 and No. 12 respectively.

While these are all outstanding topics to focus on, we wonder if more than a little self-promoting isn’t going on, just in a different fashion.

We expect our officeholders to be on the job, diligently working toward a better West Virginia.

But don’t expect the public to believe that a politician’s frequent media grabs are not also self-promoting.

That’s exactly what’s happening with Morrisey so far.

Except it’s in the form of a “press release,” and not a plastic cup holder.

But you’ll have to pardon us while we continue to sift through this 279-page document — as we rue the day we receive a progress report on Morrisey’s first term in office.