By VIC SPROUSE
CHARLESTON -- There is a new Big Daddy in town, and it's not Robert C. Byrd.
Actually, what an odd day. On the same day Big Daddy Byrd has stated publicly there will no longer be Congressional earmarks (didn't he run on the fact that he really WAS Big Daddy), a new Daddy has arisen.
Instead of using your tax dollars to dole out, Attorney General Darrell C. McGraw has now claimed the mantle of leadership in passing out government funds obtained through suing companies and giving West Virginia an even worse reputation with the country's Fortune 500.
While they are not "tax" dollars, the Attorney General is suing companies, helping drive business away from the state, and then turning around and passing that money out as if it were his own.
On WCHS-TV news the other night, one of the reps from the Clay Center (the latest recipient of the McGraw largesse) was quoted as saying it was an amazing "gift" from the Attorney General.
No, a gift is something you give from your own pocket, not from government coffers.
This is a NEW phenomenom for the Attorney General. McGraw used to pass out silly little trinkets. Now's he's moved up to the big time. This is like a petty thief moving up to knocking over the Federal Reserve.
This new phase of McGraw-give-a-ways started in November of 2004.
What happened then? Well, the Attorney General barely beat out a relative unknown, Hiram Lewis, who spent little money and came from nowhere to only lose to McGraw by 5,000 votes.
Had Hiram raised another $25,000 or had another few days in the election cycle, McGraw would have been out to pasture with his brother, former Justice Warren McGraw.
Before then, I never heard of the Attorney General handing out money.
After almost getting defeated, McGraw started down this path of passing out dollars he is not entitled to pass out.
Trust me, this pisses off the Democrats, too. The Democrats in the Legislature don't believe -- anymore than I do -- that Darrell McGraw or any Attorney General for that matter, has the ability to dole out money from his accounts as he sees fit. But, they are too weak-kneed to do anything about it.
Of course, this makes the trinkets the Attorney General passes out on a regular basis seem like chump change. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. McGraw gave $500,000 to the University of Charleston. A private institution, no less. He gave $40,000 to the Clay Center. And, who knows what's next ... someplace that will garner the most votes, I'm sure.
Move over Robert C. Byrd, there's a new Big Daddy in town.
Sprouse has served in the Legislature since 1995 and resides in Charleston. He graduated from Penn State University with a Chemical Engineering degree and currently owns and operates several fitness centers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.