The McGraw budget mess

By The West Virginia Record | Dec 21, 2007

They say it is better to give than to receive.

They say it is better to give than to receive.

His re-election campaign just around the corner, Attorney General Darrell McGraw had better hope West Virginia taxpayers are in a generous mood this holiday season.

That's in light of the recent news that we'll soon be ponying up a cool $634,525 on McGraw's account, paying back the federal government for the attorney general's past indiscretions.

The cash will serve as restitution to the feds for McGraw's unauthorized use of proceeds from a 2004 settlement between our state and a California asthma drug maker, Dey, Inc.

Back then, McGraw had purported to be suing the company to retrieve money defrauded from West Virginia's Medicaid program. But when the company coughed up $850,000 to make him go away, he didn't use the loot back to make his supposedly wronged plaintiff whole.

Rather, he sprinkled it elsewhere, including his own slush fund, dedicated to McGraw self-promotion in the name of "consumer protection and education."

We've heard this story before, of course.

So close to the holidays, it is appropriate to remember those 2005 "Christmas bonus" checks McGraw so graciously bestowed upon Charleston lawyers William Druckman, Rudy DiTrapano, and David Brumfield for helping him sue Purdue Pharma.

Refreshing memories, they were for $208,333.31. All told, McGraw indulged his "special assistant" private plaintiff's lawyers to the tune of $3.1 million in the Purdue Pharma case, spending millions more on pet projects of his across the state, including a Sesame Street exhibit. And don't forget the $500,000 that went to a new pharmacy school at the University of Charleston.

In August, the feds said West Virginia would have to cough up $4.1 million to make amends for that spending spree. Apparently, despite McGraw's promises, that wasn't "found money" for his office to spend as he saw fit after all. Like the Dey money, it belonged to Uncle Sam, otherwise known as the Taxpayers of the United States of America, who fund Medicaid here and elsewhere.

As it generally does, that bill eventually came due. And now there's this one, bringing the total to nearly $5 million, which begs the question: What comes next? Are there any more unpaid Darrell McGraw tabs out there still to be unearthed?

For state legislators, who will eventually make the cuts to find the money to resolve this growing embarrassment, it is a question worth asking.

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