The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 27, 2012

Candidates' Corner — Patrick Morrisey

(Continued)

— MORRISEY: There are three specific areas that I’ve been focusing on in my campaign. First, we have to get the EPA off West Virginia’s back. That has to be priority number one. We have to protect coal and our coal jobs. This attorney general has been inactive on coal issues. That’s absolutely unacceptable from my perspective. After I’m elected attorney general, I’ll sit down with the coal industry, with the unions, with officials from across the state to try to find a way to be more proactive in terms of how we challenge Washington over-reach and better protect our coal industry. It’s awfully difficult as a state to succeed in coal if you have one hand tied behind your back because your attorney general is so inactive. I will not be an inactive attorney general in the area of coal. That’s an important priority.

Second, we need to have a stronger, more competent attorney general in the area of health care. The truth is that under the Darrell McGraw administration there have been some mistakes that have been made that have cost taxpayers dearly — cost them millions of dollars. I want to bring some extra competence in the health care area. I’ve been a lawyer for over 20 years with a specialized background in health care issues. I’ve drafted Medicare and Medicaid laws. I’d like to have the opportunity to apply that background to help the citizens of West Virginia. We’re about to experience a significant budget shortfall due to Medicaid. We need to have an attorney general who has a good grasp of the state’s Medicaid program and who could focus on ways to continue to preserve care for those who need it most, but also control spending because we have to make sure we keep our budgets balanced. That’s the kind of background I’d bring to the attorney general’s position. We could provide good counsel to the governor and to the legislature to ensure that they’re making the right decisions for the state of West Virginia.

The last area where I think the attorney general can play an important role is in the area of ethics reform. We should not tolerate corruption in this state. And, unfortunately what we’ve seen in the last 20 years is that the office of attorney general has not been proactive in addressing ethical abuse. We’ve talked about how settlement money needs to go back to the state legislature and the taxpayers, but the reforms have to be far more sweeping. I believe we should end the use of self-promotional tools of little trinkets with the office holder’s name on it. It’s a small example, but it will send the message to the public that the people who are running their government are not in it for themselves.

We need to put the people first and not focus solely on re-election concerns, which unfortunately my opponent has done. In addition to eliminating the self-promotional practices, we need to reform how the office hires outside counsel. Right now, Darrell McGraw picks the lawyers as he sees fit. We’re going to handle that much differently. After I’m elected attorney general we’re going to institute a competitive bidding system to obtain better quality outside legal counsel. We’ll have lower costs, but we’ll still be able to maintain good quality. We’ll go through a bidding process so there’s no arbitrary way of picking winners and losers of lawyers around the state simply because they contributed to your campaign. So, those are the three areas where I think we could make a big difference and where West Virginia could see much higher quality of legal services provided to them.

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