We'd take the $13

by The West Virginia Record |
Oct. 17, 2008, 6:10am

How's Darrell McGraw's consumer protection working out for you, West Virginia?

It's the question Attorney General McGraw hopes we never ask; the too-obvious one lost in the political debate over whether he spent that infamous $10 million settlement recklessly, selfishly or maybe even illegally.

Certain facts are as debatable as whether there are 12 inches in a foot.

McGraw took the money and spent it as he wished. He ursurped the authority of our state lawmakers because he could. And he spent the money belonging to U.S. taxpayers because he thought it wouldn't be noticed.

The net is that now, at the worst possible economic time, West Virginians are on the hook for millions. But those are just the facts.

The fiction is that McGraw's ends justified his means -- that his tactics, unsavory as they appear, resulted in nice little cash grants to do-gooding organizations across the state in the name of "protecting consumers."

By our attorney general's rationale, we shouldn't care that he spent West Virginia taxpayer money without our permission, or that a huge chunk of it wasn't even ours in the first place. McGraw says he meant well.

To McGraw's way of thinking he didn't take the money -- we taxpayers gave it to him. Then he spent it on those "consumer protection" efforts he says are so crucial to the welfare of our state.

Were they worth it? Do you feel safer as a consumer because University of Charleston is starting a pharmacy school, or because of that Sesame Street exhibit McGraw funded at the Clay Center?

Or would you have preferred the state spend that money on something else? Maybe new roads or more police. Heck, the state could even have given it back to us. $10 million spread among our state's 730,000 some households is about $13 a piece -- not a ton but a better choice than Big Bird.

We needn't mention choices because McGraw made certain the taxpayers -- you voters -- wouldn't have one.

On Nov. 4, you have a choice.

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