A tale of two attorneys general

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 19, 2014

Darrell McGraw’s cronies may lament the passing of the “good old days” of his five-term incumbency, but West Virginians – having had time to see how a real public servant can and should operate – consider themselves well rid of him.

While ostensibly acting on the state’s behalf, former Attorney General McGraw won lawsuits against major drug companies but retained control of the proceeds, leaving the state holding the bag for reimbursements due to the federal government. That meant state services and benefits had to be cut or taxes raised to cover the deficits.

The feds responded by withholding millions in future Medicaid funding to recoup their share of McGraw’s settlements. Instead of returning them to the proper authorities, McGraw directed the proceeds from settlements to his Consumer Protection Fund and to state agencies of his choosing.

Attorneys that McGraw hired to represent the state pocketed sizable percentages of the settlements and showed their appreciation with contributions to their comrade’s continuing campaigns for reelection.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey offers quite a contrast.

His recently announced $22 million settlement with GlaxoSmithKline is a case in point.

Instead of ignoring the federal government’s possible share of the settlement and attempting to conceal the funny business, Morrisey contacted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in advance to apprise them of the progress of the suit.

Three months ago, CMS affirmed that the state was entitled to all of the settlement money and that the feds would assert no claim against it.

“As part of this settlement, we wanted to make sure everything was handled appropriately and openly,” Morrisey explained. “We instituted a different process so that the state was protected.”

Settlement proceeds will help shore up state funds and reduce budget shortfalls. Law firms representing the state in this case are being compensated under a policy established by Morrisey’s office last year, saving the state nearly $3 million in fees.

These are the good new days.

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