CHARLESTON - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office held a so-called "tele-town hall meeting" on gun and hunting laws last week.
The Charleston Daily Mail reported Tuesday that the Attorney General's Office made nearly 50,000 automated calls on the evening of Sept. 6 to see if residents wanted to participate in a conference call on the state's gun laws.
Joe Clay, chief financial officer for McGraw's office, told the Daily Mail that the automated calls led to more than 5,000 West Virginians participating in the 50-minute conference call. Clay said the average time spent on the call was 17 minutes.
Clay told the newspaper that the calls are a cheaper way of reaching more people. In all, the calls cost about $1,500, he said.
The money will come from the office's general fund.
"You couldn't have rented the spaces for what this is going to cost, nor would you have had the people," Clay told the Daily Mail.
In addition to McGraw, officials from the West Virginia Sheriff's Association, the National Rifle Association and the state Division of Natural Resources also answered questions.
Patrick Morrisey, McGraw's GOP opponent in the state's Nov. 6 election, contends the tele-town hall meeting wasn't held simply for the benefit of residents.
The Eastern Panhandle attorney told the Daily Mail the meeting was mostly held to boost McGraw's political prospects going into the fall election.
"Something is terribly wrong with our system when McGraw can continuously dip into taxpayer monies to promote his name so close to election day," Morrisey said.
Clay countered that the calls were held ahead of hunting season.