— Explain the reasoning behind what lawsuits an attorney general would and should choose to pursue in order to assist state residents and better their lives?
MORRISEY: As attorney general you serve as the chief legal officer of the state. That means regardless of the policy that’s coming out of Washington or Charleston, you have to ensure that policy is consistent with the U.S. Constitution, the West Virginia Constitution and federal and state statutes. So, when I look at potential matters where West Virginia may join, whether it’s challenging individuals or businesses that may be violating our consumer protection statute, or where the federal government has over-reached, where it’s acting outside of its Constitutional powers, I will take a close look at the facts present for that particular policy or law, compare that to the Constitutional provisions to ensure that the government is acting within its scope and the actions we’re going to join related to businesses are consistent with the mission of the office of attorney general. But this has to be a very deliberate process. The fact is Darrell McGraw has focused almost exclusively on consumer protection in recent years. I’ve commended the office when they’ve done positive things and I’d like to thank Darrell McGraw for his 32 years of service; however, we have to also make sure you’re acting consistent with all legal and Constitutional principles. That’s the approach I would take and that’s different from how Darrell McGraw has acted during his tenure in office.
Why are you the best candidate to serve as West Virginia’s attorney general?
MORRISEY: There are fundamental differences between my campaign and Darrell McGraw’s. First of all, I entered this race with significant legal experience. I’ve been a practicing lawyer for over 20 years. I’ve served first as a solo practitioner where I had to wait tables to make ends meet. So, I know the value of hard work and West Virginians certainly can appreciate that. I was an associate at a law firm and worked my way up to be a partner at a major law firm. I also served has chief health counsel and deputy staff director of the House Energy and Commerce committee, a committee with broad jurisdiction over health care, environmental matters, consumer protection matters, and energy issues. In that position I was able to gain good insight into many of the challenges that are facing West Virginia. The fact is, when you see the EPA bureaucracy up close, when you see the over-reach of Obamacare, you know that as an attorney general you can bring those experiences to bear to represent the citizens of the state so they’re not burdened by these over-reaching regulations and job-killing policies.
As attorney general, I would have a much different approach to the office than Darrell McGraw. Number one, I would be far more aggressive in challenging the EPA because I believe they’ve really been reeking havoc on our way of life. I would have put the state of West Virginia on the multi-state lawsuit dealing with Obamacare. And, I will make ethics reform a top priority. These are real differences.
Darrell McGraw has been in charge for 20 years and, unfortunately, he’s not focused on the key issues that West Virginians really need help on right now, which are how we keep our coal jobs, how we fight back against over-reaching health care policies that kill job growth and how we advance ethics reform in the state. I have a lot of good experience I’d like to bring to bear to help the citizens of West Virginia. The campaign has been going really well so far. We’ve been getting a great reception particularly in the southern part of the state because people realize that we can’t continue on the same policies that we have in the past.
I’ve come out with a 17 point plan as to how I’m going to handle my first 100 days in office. Within that plan, we act in the area of ethics, we will do a comprehensive review of all the regulations that we should join suits on and/or issue legal opinions related to; but the other thing we’re going to do is a lot of outreach to individuals and the business community to see how things could be done better. The fact is that Darrell McGraw has not maintained good relationships with the business community, with state agencies, with the legislature, and that’s something that we need to change. We need to work in a more collaborative manner in the office of attorney general so we can ensure that people know West Virginia is a good and friendly place to do business in.
The attorney general could make such a dramatic difference in terms of making the state’s business climate more friendly just if people knew they could have conversations with the attorney general, as opposed to what we have now, which is an attorney general who refuses to comment on the most basic things. We need someone who’s willing to engage the public on a regular basis to talk about important issues and that’s what I plan to do after I’m elected attorney general.
No one’s perfect in life. No one has all the answers, but if you have a little dedication, intelligence and passion, you can get a lot done. I’m really optimistic about the future of West Virginia because I think we have such plentiful natural resources and we can really make sure our state shines in the future, but we need better leadership in Charleston out of our attorney general’s office and that’s something I intend to provide.