Morrisey urges McGraw to reconsider statement on debates

By Jessica M. Karmasek | May 31, 2012



CHARLESTON - Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey has sent another letter to state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, once again encouraging the incumbent to engage in a series of public debates.

Last week, Morrisey sent a letter to McGraw, asking him to reconsider his statement that candidates for attorney general should not debate.

"As a five-term incumbent, Attorney General McGraw must be willing to defend his record and be held accountable for his actions and inactions," Morrisey said, adding that it is "critical" to provide voters with public forums where they can compare the candidates' positions and qualifications.

McGraw has told The West Virginia Record that he doesn't see a need to debate Morrisey.

"In my experience as the chief legal officer of the state, there is always someone who wants to debate some issue of law enforcement," he said May 15 at the opening of his office's Eastern Panhandle branch. "You shouldn't mix law enforcement issues into partisan politics."

On Wednesday, Morrisey said McGraw's statement was "not a serious response to an important request."

"West Virginia deserves better from a public official who has served in office for 32 years," the GOP candidate wrote in his newest letter, released to the media and his supporters.

"As such, I urge you to reconsider your position so that we can begin scheduling our debates."

Morrisey, who re-emphasized that he is flexible in terms of the time, date, format and location of the debates, said he would go one step further.

"Since so many people around the state appear interested in seeing us in live forums, why don't we start by agreeing to the terms of our first joint appearance? We can ask for sponsors and then distribute the proceeds to charities of our choice. The topic of the debate could be: 'Consumer Protection Enforcement: How the Attorney General Should Help Consumers?'"

Morrisey questioned what the attorney general could possibly have to hide. "And how can he turn down a request to help our state's charities?"

However, McGraw's challenger noted he would be somewhat particular in terms of debate sponsors.

"While we encourage sponsors to step forward, we believe it would be unethical for the attorney general to sponsor the debate using the mortgage settlement monies that he currently relies upon to boost his political campaign," Morrisey said.

"Those monies must be returned to the taxpayers."

As part of the multistate settlement, reached in February, West Virginia is expected to get more than $33 million in assistance for struggling homeowners.

The settlement only covers those mortgages held by the nation's five largest banks -- Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Ally Financial Inc. and Bank of America Corp. -- not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Of the $33 million, an immediate estimated payment of $2,000 will go to each state homeowner who lost their home to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011.

More than $18 million will go to loan modifications and benefits to state homeowners currently in default or foreclosure.

More than $5 million will go to free refinancing for "underwater" but current state homeowners.

Another $6 million will go to foreclosure and mortgage assistance and prevention programs in West Virginia.

McGraw could not immediately be reached for comment on Morrisey's latest request.

The general election is Nov. 6.

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