Identity theft is a costly racket. Businesses and individuals lose more than $55 billion each year to identity thieves.

Identity theft is something most state attorneys general fight against. Ours has found a self-aggrandizing way to engage in a form of it.

Darrell "Quick Draw" McGraw has assumed the identities of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and of the 134 members of the state Legislature. Unlike most victims of identity theft, however, Tomblin and the legislators neither protest nor take action to stop it.

As the Organizational Chart posted at indicates, our state government, like our federal government, is divided into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. All three branches are subservient to the citizens of West Virginia.

As the Budget Process Calendar illustrates, the governor submits a proposed state budget to the legislature in January. In March, the legislature passes a budget of its own devising, which the governor then approves or vetoes.

Other than to submit a request for funding of the attorney general's office (in September), Darrell McGraw is not, or should not be, involved in this process.

And yet, old Quick Draw habitually assumes the roles of governor and legislators in proposing, passing, and approving funding bequests of his choosing.

He must think he's a one-man government. Just last week, McGraw provided $1 million in funding to the nonprofit group Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Where'd that money come from? What right did he have to allocate it? Why don't our governor and state legislators protest this usurpation of their rights and responsibilities under our constitution?

McGraw says the money for Legal Aid came from the nationwide mortgage settlement he and 48 other state attorneys general agreed to in February. That answers one question, but not the others.

Are the other 48 AGs allocating the funds secured for their states, as their governors and legislators meekly acquiesce? We doubt it.

Other state attorneys general wouldn't dare pull a stunt like that -- and those governors, legislators, and citizens wouldn't tolerate it if they tried. Why do we?

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