CHARLESTON -- The Democratic Attorneys General Association apparently is the group behind the August blitz of television advertising supporting Darrell McGraw, and more seems to be on the way.
On Aug. 21, the DAGA contributed $275,000 to the Committee for American Fairness, according to a Sept. 30 expenditures report filed with the IRS. It also made a $250,000 contribution to the same group on Sept. 27, according to the filing. That's on top of a $30,000 contribution DAGA made to the group on June 28.
The Committee for American Fairness is the group that ran ads in August touting McGraw’s tenure as West Virginia’s Attorney General. Its website also includes a section titled “Learn the Facts About Patrick Morrisey.”
The Committee for American Fairness never filed electioneering paperwork with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office because their ads appeared more than 60 days before the general election.
But a Political Action Group called the Mountaineer Committee for Justice & Fairness has filed paperwork with the SOS office. It uses the same email address as the one listed on the Committee for American Fairness website. The paperwork was received Oct. 9, according to SOS spokesman Jake Glance. The Mountaineer paperwork lists Dana Ju as chairperson and Carrie Schuyler as treasurer.
According to a report filed by the Mountaineer group on Oct. 15, it lists an electioneering communication expenditure of $345,800 on Oct. 15 to LUC Media Inc. It says the ad refers to Morrisey, McGraw’s Republican challenger in this fall’s election. The same report also lists a $360,000 contribution from DAGA on Oct. 12.
The paperwork isn’t clear and calls to the Washington phone number listed on the paperwork, so the particulars of the advertising are not available. But the filings would seem to indicate that anti-Morrisey ads are on the way because the first ad did not mention McGraw’s opponent.
Morrisey’s campaign manager called McGraw a hypocrite.
“With the news of the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) pouring massive new money into Darrell McGraw's sagging campaign, it's clear to all that McGraw's hypocrisy knows no bounds,” Scott Will said Wednesday in a press release. “For 20 years, McGraw has said that he despises out-of-state groups coming in to West Virginia to become involved in political campaigns. In 2008, McGraw said in a television ad ‘I always stand up for you against out of state special interests.’
“But now, when McGraw is poised to lose, he eagerly welcomes the assistance of President Obama's out-of-state donors.”
Will said he isn’t surprised third-party out-of-state groups are eager to “bail out McGraw.”
“After all, he has been one of Obama’s biggest supporters in the state,” Will said in the press release. “Earlier this year, he enthusiastically endorsed Obama’s re-election, and has failed to lead fights against the EPA and refused to add West Virginia to the 26 state lawsuit challenging Obamacare.”
McGraw’s campaign spokeswoman said she hasn’t heard about any DAGA advertising.
“I don’t know anything about DAGA pouring any money in,” Denise Tucker said Wednesday. “If they are, it’s their business. And on top of that, I don’t know if they have any connection with President Obama. That’s just ludicrous.
“Mr. Morrisey, well every Republican running this year, is trying to tie every Democrat to President Obama, and they need to run on their own merits and quit just trying to mislead the voters over the president’s record.”
On the SOS website, the Mountaineer Committee for Justice & Fairness lists a Washington, D.C., post office box as its address, and it is the same post office box to which the DAGA sent seven additional contributions totaling $1.6 million in August and September. On the DAGA’s IRS report, that same post office box is listed with a group called Committee for Justice & Fairness.
Interestingly, the DAGA third-quarter IRS report also shows it received a $25,000 contribution from the Washington, D.C., law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll. That firm previously recovered legal fees from West Virginia’s OxyContin settlement with Purdue Pharma through McGraw’s office in 2004.
According to its website, the Committee for American Fairness “was founded by a group of individuals and organizations in 2012 to encourage fairness and efficiency within the American justice system.
“Through targeted communications, CAF advocates for issues important to the safety and well being of the American public. Every single American should be able to count on the law to protect them. CAF will advocate for community partnerships to reduce crime, stop corporate fraud, protecting consumers from mortgage fraud and other scams, and preserving America’s abundant natural resources and engage American citizens in making our communities safer.
“CAF will work to continue finding ways to better serve the public and accomplish the tasks entrusted to all elected officials by their constituents. We will provide citizens with reliable information about the laws that are put in place to protect consumers, seniors and the public safety of all Americans.”
Morrisey said McGraw isn’t putting West Virginia first, and he vowed to do so if he’s elected Nov. 6.
“I won’t say one thing, and do another,” Morrisey said in his press release. “Darrell McGraw has misled West Virginians about his failed record for years. McGraw will seemingly say and do anything to hold on to power.
“Whether it's fleecing taxpayers of millions of dollars to campaign, diverting settlement money to self-promote at the expense of the most vulnerable enrolled within our Medicaid Program, hiding from debate and public scrutiny, or accepting money from the same so-called ‘outsiders’ he criticizes, McGraw is the perfect example of what is wrong with politics. McGraw cares about one thing: himself.”