CHARLESTON – A new advertisement from Democratic challenger Doug Reynolds is drawing heat from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s campaign.
In the commercial titled “Money Tree,” Reynolds’s campaign says Morrisey’s office asked for a $2 million budget increase when the state faced budget problems and spent $14,000 on videos to promote himself. He also says Morrisey hired a political strategist for the office.
The ad, which can be viewed online, also says Reynolds returned his special session pay when lawmakers couldn’t reach an agreement on the state budget. He also says he voted across party lines to make historic budget cuts.
Reynolds’ campaign spokeswoman defended the ad.
“We stand by the commercial and we are glad to inform the public of Patrick Morrisey's shady dealings,” Lynette Maselli told The West Virginia Record. “Morrisey is a career politician who came to West Virginia to serve his own political interests.
“Doug is a fourth generation West Virginian who employs over 700 employees right here in West Virginia. It’s shameful, at best, that Morrisey would attack West Virginia businesses and organizations that make this state strong. “
But Morrisey’s campaign responded to the claims in the ad with a “fact check” press release.
“It’s no surprise that Doug Reynolds would try to tear down Attorney General Morrisey and all the great work he has done for the state of West Virginia,” Morrisey campaign spokeswoman Kayla Berube said. “But even the most desperate political ploy should stop short of such unsubstantiated claims as Reynolds’ latest negative ad.
“The Attorney General looks forward to running on his record of accomplishment, while Doug Reynolds runs away from his record of behaving like an entitled, self-serving politician."
Berube went on to challenge some of the things mentioned in Reynolds’ ad.
The ad says Morrisey “must think money grows on trees.”
“Patrick Morrisey is the product of a middle class family, where he learned the importance of maintaining a hard work ethic,” Berube countered. “He is the son of a World War II veteran and a Veterans Administration nurse. He worked his own way through college and law school.
“Doug Reynolds was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The heir to his father’s fortune, he’s mooched off the taxpayer in both his private and public life – he took a bailout for his failing bank, voted for his own pay raise and voted to raise taxes and fees on hard working West Virginians 16 times.”
Berube also addressed the $2 million budget increase request.
“Attorney General Morrisey spends far less money running the Attorney General’s office and have voluntarily returned $33 million to the State’s General Fund,” she said. “The office has also saved over $4 million in implementing its new outside counsel policy. When he asked for money and received it, he paid for it through offsets.
“Upon taking office, Morrisey invested in new technology to allow the office to streamline their consumer protection division and also cleaned up a multi-year backlog of claims that were owed to consumers. In some cases, consumers hadn’t been paid monies owed to them for five years. The office implemented a new electronic consumer complaint system which dramatically improved response time to consumers; it now averages thirty-five days to resolve a complaint.
“Doug Reynolds voted to give himself a $5,000 raise in the Legislature, and gladly accepted the pay hike, even though he’s inherited a fortune from his family.”
Berube disputes the Reynolds’ claim that Morrisey spent $14,000 to promote himself on television.
“Under Morrisey’s leadership, the Attorney General’s office has ended all advertising with the officeholder’s name on it,” she said. “Further, Morrisey’s aggressive educational efforts have helped to protect seniors and the most vulnerable Mountaineers from scams.”
Morrisey’s campaign also discussed the political consultant.
“The former employee referenced was hired in the official office to serve as deputy chief of staff and was never employed as a political consultant for Morrisey or any candidate in West Virginia,” Berube said. “As reflected in Morrisey’s campaign finance records, the state employee referenced never served as a political consultant for Patrick Morrisey in any way. Further, a review of West Virginia Republican Party financial records proves he was never employed in a political capacity by that entity.”
Berube also discussed Reynolds returning his special-session salary.
“Doug Reynolds wants a pat on the back for returning his pay for a 17-day special session,” she said. “At $150 payment per day, that means he returned a whopping $2,550.”
She also cited other figures from a state website.
“During the special session, Doug Reynolds’ companies HD Media and Nitro Electric received payments totaling $4,746.94,” Berube said. “Additionally, one company owned and operated by his father, received over a million dollars from the state during the 17-day special session.”