CHARLESTON – A Cabell County business owner has filed an ethics complaint against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
In the complaint, Andrew D. Nelson says Morrisey has “an incurable conflict of interest” because of two lawsuits against drug companies blamed, in part, for creating a prescription drug problem in the state.
Nelson, who owns a meat processing facility in Milton, filed his complaint with the Lawyer Disciplinary Board because he doesn’t think Morrisey can be objective in the cases because he is a former Washington lobbyist for a group that represents 10 drug companies the AGs office is suing.
"It is my understanding that the complaint was received today and it is being reviewed.” Morrisey spokeswoman Beth Ryan said Wednesday. “Our office always strives to uphold the highest standards of ethics."
Morrisey’s office inherited the cases from former AG Darrell McGraw. McGraw filed two lawsuits in Boone County just before he left office in 2012 alleging these drug companies ship excessive amounts of pain medication to the state. One of the lawsuits was against Cardinal Health, and the other named 13 other drug companies.
Morrisey used to lobby for a Washington group that represented Cardinal Health, and his wife also has lobbied for Cardinal.
“The financial interests of Denise Henry directly benefit Morrisey,” Nelson said in his complaint. “This stream of steady and substantial income from Cardinal Health to his wife is a money conduit from which Morrisey and his family must surely benefit.”
Morrisey has recused himself from the Cardinal Health case, assigning it to Chief Deputy AG Dan Greear. But Nelson says that isn’t good enough.
The recusal “was no cure (for) obvious conflicts,” he wrote. “Assigning the Cardinal case to a staff that is employed at Morrisey’s will and pleasure cannot possibly ensure an unfettered pursuit of the state’s interest against Cardinal.”
Nelson said his business – Nelson’s Meat Processing – has been “adversely affected by the seeming epidemic of prescription pain pill addiction in Southern West Virginia.”
He wrote that he was encouraged when McGraw filed the lawsuits against the drug companies.
“When Patrick Morrisey was elected, I began to have misgivings as to whether he would, or could vigorously prosecute the cases against the companies responsible for the flood of pain pills washing over West Virginia,” Nelson wrote in the complaint. “I believe Attorney General Morrisey has an incurable conflict of interest.”