It's always easier to pay lip service than to pay the piper.
That's what we thought while watching Attorney General Darrell McGraw pander to little old ladies last week, feigning outrage over cuts in West Virginia's workers' compensation program.
At issue are payments to widows whose husbands were killed on the job. The state -- tight for workers' comp funds -- holds that benefits should end when the deceased would have retired, at age 65. McGraw said he plans to fight the cuts, calling them "morally appalling."
But this time, our fair A.G. truly can do more than blow hot legal air. McGraw can and should help bridge the deficit faced by West Virginia's Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) by finally returning the $2.235 million of its money he's been unlawfully hording.
Call us unoriginal -- but we're morally appalled.
That's appalled that McGraw would use the Division as the superstar plaintiff in his lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, demanding "restitution and reimbursement" for millions it spent on the painkiller OxyContin, if only to keep the $10 million in settlement cash for himself.
Correct that -- that's if only to keep $6.3 million in settlement cash for himself. The other $3.7 million went to his pal private plaintiff's lawyers. But that's another outrage.
In this one, McGraw figured the people wouldn't read the fine print of his 32-page lawsuit against the drug-maker, which charges DWC took on the brunt of the "damages" inflicted against the people of West Virginia. He figured the people wouldn't figure out that he sued on behalf of them and thus the settlement cash is theirs -- not his.
DWC spent more on OxyContin prescriptions -- $2,234,648 in a single year -- than any other. McGraw needed these big numbers to make his case and force a settlement, enriching the lawyers he hired and leaving millions left over for his own pet projects.
So now that they've been "reimbursed," why aren't those millions going to fix the "damages" Purdue Pharma supposedly wrought against West Virginia taxpayers?
Either McGraw doesn't believe those damages actually occurred or existed in the first place, or he has more important priorities than funding workers' compensation benefits for our state's widows.
But good 'ole Darrell -- he loves those little old ladies, don't you doubt that for a second!