Darrell McGraw's $64,000 question

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 21, 2006

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Darrell McGraw's favorite television programs: game shows!

We know he likes Let's Make a Deal, specifically "contingency deals," as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in an Aug. 16 editorial which referenced Attorney General McGraw's "rewarding campaign donors with lucrative business."

Recently-released documents under a Freedom of Information Act request show that virtually every one of the more than two-dozen special attorneys-general tapped by Darrell for outside legal work has stroked a check to the McGraw political operation. Clearly, West Virginia's attorney general likes the "pay to play" episodes of "Deal."

Then there's Who Wants to be a Millionaire? One generous source of McGraw campaign cash has raked in well over seven figures in legal fees from three recent out-of-state settlements. Other than helping to bankroll the McGraw machine, we know nothing about the qualifications of his outside counsel. Which raises the question of why outside counsel in the first place? We taxpayers already finance an in-house legal staff of nearly 200.

Darrell McGraw also likes The Price is Right. He is already well known for spending nearly $1 million in public funds on trinkets bearing the McGraw name, and shameless self-promotion through advertising. The skids are now greased for a lobbying firm with cozy ties to Darrell's pals in the personal injury lawsuit industry to spend even more of our money! Interestingly, their contract requires them to put some of Darrell's in-house staff on their payroll. What a Wheel of Fortune!

Our Attorney General also is a big fan of Survivor. His fellow attorney general in New Jersey voluntarily left the island this summer when she was found to be in violation of state ethics rules over a traffic stop where a motorist got preferential treatment from the police. Darrell survives despite questions of his ethics as a public official.

What does Darrell McGraw's TV Guide tell us about his way of doing business in the attorney general's office? The citizens of West Virginia are spectators of a game show more tragic than entertaining; a game in which Darrell McGraw and his buddies at the personal injury bar are the winners. The rest of us are the big losers. When will Jeopardy be over?

Steve Cohen is executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is a nonprofit citizen watchdog group interested in a variety of civil justice issues. Persons wanting more information can visit www.WVJusticeWatch.org or write to P.O. Box 127, Charleston, WV 25321.

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