A state attorney general who promotes our state and not himself?

West Virginia’s new attorney general is living up to his promise to be different from his predecessor, five-term incumbent Darrell McGraw. Patrick Morrisey defeated McGraw in last year’s election without using public funds to subsidize his campaign, as McGraw did repeatedly during numerous re-election bids (notwithstanding that as a candidate he had no legitimate claim on such funds). Morrisey promised to be a kind of anti-McGraw, performing the functions of state attorney general “in an honorable and effective manner,” challenging “overreaching laws and regulations” emanating from Washington, and striving to “protect jobs and consumers in this state, improve West Virginia’s business and legal climate, and advance ethics reform.” Just this month, Morrisey unveiled a reform plan for his office, announcing that “we will no longer use state settlement funds on trinkets and other materials which appear to have no purpose other than self-promotion.” Convinced that “state government, as a whole, should hold itself to a higher standard when it comes to the use of West Virginians’ tax dollars,” our new AG will propose legislation prohibiting use of the names or likenesses of public officials in taxpayer-funded advertising during election periods. Morrisey is also calling for an amendment to the state constitution limiting the attorney general to two consecutive terms and for legislation to proscribe conflicts of interest in the distribution of public funds to private entities. He is already implementing a competitive bidding process in the Attorney General’s Office to govern work awarded to outside counsel. “This is just the beginning of a lot of changes we’re instituting,” Morrisey emphasized. “We slowly are dismantling the many incumbent self-protection devices.” Morrisey is off to a good start. The days of the good old boys doing business as usual -- often for their own benefit and to the detriment of our state -- are on the way out. Soon the myriad unacceptable practices of old Darrell “Quick Draw” McGraw will be a distant memory. Darrell who? Exactly.

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