The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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February 12, 2013

New AG vows no self-promoting trinkets for office

CHARLESTON — Self-promoting trinkets that have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars under his predecessor are a thing of the past, new West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey vowed Monday.

“We’re not trying to be prudes here,” the attorney general told reporters.

“The goal here is to have rules of the road that limit egregious self-promotion. We’re going to have press releases, we’re going to have business cards and envelopes and things along those lines.”

Without mentioning him by name, Morrisey clearly was referring to his Democratic predecessor, Darrell V. McGraw Jr.

Spread on a table before him at a news conference in his law library were six boxes of various trinkets, all bearing McGraw’s name.

“You will not see my name on the pill box, the gun lock, on the pen, the pencil, the magnet, etc.,” he said.

“We’re going to be dismantling the incumbency self-promotion tools. We’re not going to allow the incumbent self-protection tools that dominate West Virginia politics. That’s coming to an end.”

While the altered policy applies only to him, the Republican attorney general said he hopes other public officials follow suit.

Trinkets aren’t going the way of the dinosaur entirely, however, since pencils and pens will still be needed, but none will have the name “Morrisey” inscribed, he emphasized.

Morrisey also pledged to refrain from using his name or image on ads during an election year.

“I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “That’s a clear abuse.”

Morrisey said he also would impose a revised rule on advertising, allowing only that which is permissible to execute the work of his office.

“The goal here is to end all these abuse practices in the past,” he said.

As for educational materials, Morrisey said he also is disallowing the use of his name — another departure from the past.

“Many documents were nothing more than thinly veiled campaign literature,” he said.

“We will still have materials but the materials will not have my name emblazoned on them. The goal is to make the office less about me as a person and more about serving the public.”

If his name is on such documents, he said, it will merely be incidental, and not intended to put his name out before the public.

Morrisey said he also is ending the practice of using a public vehicle in a parade.

The attorney general said he plans to ask lawmakers in the upcoming session for an expansion in the ethics law to provide more transparency in public dealings.

Specifically, he wants a one-year probation to keep a state employee from performing compensated work or assuming work with an entity over which he has exercised authority in contracts and grants.

In another area, Morrisey said he wants a policy of hiring outside lawyers via competitive bidding.

“We have a lot of good lawyers in the office,” he said.

“We want to make sure that our lawyers have a chance to do the good work of the people before we hire more expensive outside counsel to engage in these services.”

On another issue, Morrisey said he sent President Barack Obama a letter, asking to keep West Virginia’s economic interests in mind before settling on a new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We know that in West Virginia, there is a war on coal, and the energy issues are very important to our citizens,” he added.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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