Patrick Morrisey speaks Thursday at a press conference. (Courtesy photo)
CHARLES TOWN — If elected West Virginia’s next Attorney General, Republican candidate Patrick Morrisey has his first 100 days in office mapped out.
Morrisey on Thursday unveiled his plans if he takes office in January. The press conference took place outside of his campaign headquarters in Jefferson County.
Many of the planned initiatives take direct aim his opponent this fall, Democratic incumbent Darrell McGraw.
“Within the first 100 days of taking office, I will advance a number of initiatives that will help restore West Virginia’s faith in government,” Morrisey said Thursday. “From eliminating trinkets and election year self-promotion at taxpayer expense, to utilizing competitive bidding in order to receive the best and most cost efficient legal services, we will do what’s right and restore integrity to this office.”
Morrisey also said “federal overreach is killing West Virginia jobs.”
“As Attorney General, I will work with the Governor and the Legislature to make it a priority that we address the budget shortfall facing the State’s Medicaid Program and ensure that valuable resources focus on the most vulnerable in our state,” Morrisey said. “In contrast, my opponent is a proud supporter of President Obama and has done nothing to fight Obamacare or the individual mandate. That will change when I’m in office.
“As Attorney General, I’ll take on the EPA and create a ‘Jobs Summit’ that will identify all overreaching regulations, take on the illegal ones, and recommend to the Governor and the Legislature the state regulations that should be modified.”
Morrisey said he would work to keep jobs in the Mountain State.
“We can’t afford to sit by and let West Virginia jobs continue to dry up,” he said. “I’ll take a proactive approach to fighting job-killing regulations that get in our way, which is something that hasn’t happened in the McGraw office.”
According to his press release laying out his 17-point plan for the first 100 days, Morrisey said he would:
1. Eliminate self-promoting trinkets – Ban the use of trinkets with the Attorney General’s name. This office isn’t about using taxpayer resources for self-promotion; it’s about putting West Virginia interests first.
2. Send settlement monies back to the State Legislature and taxpayers – Institute a policy to return future lawsuit settlement monies back to the State Legislature and the taxpayers.
3. End taxpayer-funded campaigns – Prohibit the use of broad-based office advertising for at least six months prior to an election.
4. Use competitive bidding for hiring outside counsel – Initiate a competitive bidding policy for how the Office of Attorney General hires outside counsel. When the State hires outside counsel, it should know that it is receiving high-quality services at reasonable prices. A competitive bidding system will reduce political influences and restore integrity to the Attorney General’s office.
5. Commence full-scale audit of past AG office expenditures – Commence a full-scale audit to examine past expenditures and current policies in place within the Office of Attorney General. A new Attorney General will want to ensure that West Virginia spends money wisely and that appropriate policies and procedures govern employees’ conduct. Once the audit is complete, we will reprioritize resources to areas that need them the most and ensure that all employees are acting in a manner consistent with the highest ethical standards.
6. Collaborate with the Legislature to enact ethics reforms – Work with the Legislature and Governor to ensure that the policies described under 1, 2, 3 and 4 are enacted by the Legislature. All future Attorneys General should abide by basic principles of ethics and the West Virginia Constitution. For example, while a Patrick Morrisey Attorney General Administration can unilaterally return money to the Legislature and the taxpayers, it would be best if the Legislature establishes such a policy permanently through a statutory change.
7. Take on the EPA – Review all existing lawsuits pending by Attorneys General and, after consultation with the Legislature and the Governor, determine which lawsuits the State of West Virginia should join against the federal government. The top priority focus will be on EPA litigation. For example, just recently an EPA rule was struck down for cross-state air pollution. West Virginia should have been on this lawsuit, but Darrell McGraw refused to get our state involved despite the obvious detrimental impact the regulations had on West Virginia.
8. Create an Office of Federalism and Freedom – Establish an Office of Federalism and Freedom (through some of the resources that will be saved in the audit and savings garnered through our elimination of McGraw’s trinket distribution system) to refocus some of the Office’s priorities on challenging federal policies that have a tenuous nexus to law or the U.S. and West Virginia Constitutions. West Virginia deserves to have an Attorney General who will fight to preserve constitutional principles and keep jobs in our state.
9. Hold “Jobs Summit” – Hold a “Jobs Summit” to identify any and all overreaching regulations that may impair business growth in the State of West Virginia. Since the Office of Attorney General possesses the legal power to play a significant role in the regulatory process and may institute legal challenges against the federal government when an Agency oversteps its authority, we should identify the regulations that are having the most negative impact on economic growth. Once we identify those regulations, we will either: 1) challenge the legality of them; 2) work to help clarify their meaning (sometimes through the issuance of a legal opinion that is requested); or 3) recommend to the Legislature and the Governor that such regulations be modified. Through the Office of Attorney General, we will immediately create a more favorable business climate in West Virginia.
10. Address Medicaid in a meaningful way – Work with the Governor and the Legislature to help address the budget shortfall facing the State’s Medicaid Program. Through legal counseling, we will make recommendations about how the State can meet its financial challenges, while advancing new strategies to improve health care outcomes and lower health care costs for our State. We will discuss various scenarios with the Department of Health and Human Resources, including Section 1115, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and other federal waivers that may provide West Virginia with additional legal and management tools to improve health care and reduce waste.
11. Crack down on Medicaid fraud – Crack down on Medicaid fraud by initiating a close review of Medicaid eligibility to ensure that precious government resources are being targeted to those who need it the most. West Virginia taxpayers should not be ripped off by citizens or sham groups that improperly receive Medicaid Program monies.
12. Fight prescription drug abuse – Request new prosecutorial authority from the Legislature to help pursue criminals who facilitate our prescription drug abuse problems in West Virginia. Prescription drug abuse cuts across county lines. As such, the Attorney General should play a far more proactive role coordinating prosecutions across the 55 counties.
13. Prosecute election law fraud – Request that the Legislature clarify the role of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State so that the Attorney General gains authority to prosecute violations of ethics and election law fraud and that the Attorney General plays a more proactive role in election law policy (so that situations such as the Keith Judd fiasco, the Lincoln County mess, and the Attorney General’s inconsistent positions on Supreme Court public financing are avoided).
14. Educate West Virginians on Healthcare – Work with the Department of Health and Human Resources to conduct consumer education forums about the State’s Medicaid Program, Medicare enrollment issues, and any other existing health care programs in place (if the ACA is not repealed).
15. Defend Second Amendment rights – Accelerate state reciprocity agreements on concealed carry permits to advance our Second Amendment protections.
16. Join religious liberty lawsuits – Place West Virginia on religious liberty lawsuits.
17. Evaluate potential ethics violations – After the audit referenced under 5 is complete and all employees within the Office are interviewed, determine whether disciplinary action is warranted for any past behavior. We must ensure that all employees of the Office of Attorney General follow the rule of law and abide by the strictest ethical standards.