A Russian citizen wouldn't dare criticize its heavy-handed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The blowback from a historically thin-skinned, vindictive, unchecked pseudo-dictator with unlimited state power would be Category Four.
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is doing his best Putin imitation this month, threatening to sue--read muzzle--a non-profit group running television ads critical of his record in office.
The Center for Individual Freedom's (CFIF) campaign centers around the $10 million in Purdue Pharma settlement dollars McGraw infamously intercepted. He divvied some to his trial lawyer friends, while spending more on a self-promotion offensive across the state in an effort to hike positive voter feelings in this year's rough re-election campaign against Dan Greear.
It's worth noting, federal officials are seizing millions of the settlement--money McGraw spent that belonged to Uncle Sam--leaving an unanticipated hole in our state budget.
"They say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks," the CFIF spot says. "28 years of controversy and Darrell McGraw is at it again."
McGraw's attack dober-person, deputy Fran Hughes, told the Charleston Gazette she wouldn't stand for such criticism.
"We are not going to allow false statements to be used," she said. "We are going to pursue every legal remedy."
Hughes, as always, declined to specify what was "false" in the CFIF ad. That's because the 30 second ad rings true.
Still, her threat was loud-and-clear: criticize Darrell McGraw on the issues, and he'll use his unprecedented state power to attack you personally, a scary prospect when it comes from our top law enforcement officer.
It's the kind of bullying and intimidation tactic one would expect from a Russian strongman, not a state official in a country where free speech is constitutionally protected.
McGraw may have missed First Amendment day in law school but that doesn't mean it doesn't apply in West Virginia.