Republican Attorney General candidate Patrick Morrisey makes a point during a press conference Sept. 8. Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli was supposed to attend the press conference at the Charleston Town Center Marriott to endorse Morrisey, but couldn’t due to inclement weather. However, he participated via telephone. (Photos by Lawrence Smith)
Morrisey listens as Cuccinelli makes the case why voters should pick him over incumbent Darrell McGraw in November.
CHARLESTON – Despite his physical absence, Virginia’s attorney general made no secret of his whereabouts, and used it as backdrop as to say why West Virginians should support a Republican attorney general candidate in November.
“It’s time for Darrell McGraw to come out of hiding, and act like a leader” said Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli was slated to be the guest speaker at press conference Saturday, Sept. 8 for Patrick Morrisey’s campaign for attorney general. Following the press conference, Cuccinelli was scheduled to join Morrisey for a political rally in Kanawha City.
A Charles Town attorney, and first-time officeseeker, Morrisey, 44, is hoping to oust McGraw from the office he’s held since 1993.
However, a hail storm in Culpeper, Va., earlier in the day caused Cuccinelli’s flight to return to Richmond. Nevertheless, Cuccinelli, 44, a former Virginia state senator, and first-term attorney general, participated in the press conference via telephone, and stated publically why he’s taking the unusual step of endorsing a challenger over a fellow attorney general for office.
“I think Patrick is an excellent candidate and West Virginia is a state with interests not too dissimilar to Virginia,” Cuccinelli said.
Specifically, Cuccinelli touted Morrisey’s work in drafting a successful challenge to the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Though the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in June upheld the Act’s requirement of an “individual mandate” under Congress’ power to collect taxes, Cuccinelli said the Court agreed with Morrisey, who argued that, it violated the Constitution’s necessary and proper, commerce and spending powers clauses.
Cuccinelli chided his colleague for not taking a stand against Obamacare.
“We are supposed to play a role in keeping the federal government in check,” Cuccinelli said. “Where was West Virginia? AWOL.”
“One of the biggest constitutional contests in our nation’s history and your attorney general was on the sidelines,” Cuccinelli added.
Also, Cuccinelli took a swipe at McGraw not filing any challenges to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations putting a halt to previously approved mining permits. If the attorney general is unwilling to challenge overzealous bureaucrats whose decisions put a crimp in the livelihood of those working in the mining sector, then he said it’s time to replace him with someone who will.
“When your attorney general is a hurdle to protecting your main industry, then it’s time to get a new attorney general,” Cuccinelli said.
Along with pledging to protect jobs, Morrisey said he plans to make ethics reform a priority of his administration. That includes not only making the hiring of special assistant attorneys general competitive and transparent, but also turning all settlement money the office receives to the state legislature for it to vote on how it should be used.
Under Virginia law, Cuccinelli said all settlement money the attorney general receives goes straight to the General Assembly.
Also, like he did that afternoon, Morrisey said he will be front and center of any press conference or event he holds as attorney general.
“I will not hide behind my staff,” he said.