CHARLESTON — U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins says West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is financing his U.S. Senate campaign with money from the pharmaceutical companies that "made him rich as a career D.C. lobbyist."
Using information from recently filed campaign finance reports, Jenkins' campaign said 50 pharma lobbyists contributed more than $75,000 to Morrisey's campaign. In addition to that, Jenkins' campaign said other pharma executives, lawyers and political action committees have added roughly another $25,000 to push the total to $103,700 in the last three months that were listed on the reports.
“Patrick Morrisey is financing his campaign the same way he’s financed his lavish lifestyle: taking dirty money from the folks who helped fuel the drug crisis ravishing our communities,” Jenkins said. “West Virginians want a Mountaineer, not a Profiteer; but selling out to Big Pharma isn’t just politically toxic; it is morally wrong, and Morrisey should return this money.”
Jenkins' campaign said Morrisey made millions as a Washington lobbyist for these drug companies.
"In fact, the trade association for the Big Three opioid distributors that were then flooding West Virginia with 423 million pain pills was simultaneously paying Morrisey hundreds of thousand dollars to lobby," the Jenkins campaign said. "(Morrisey's) Senate campaign donors include at least one lobbyist whom records show pushed 'the Marino bill;' a top lobbyist for one of the Big Three opioid companies Morrisey himself once represented; and another lobbyist who actually brags about having protected OxyContin profits for manufacturer Purdue Pharma."
Jenkins' campaign also notes that Morrisey's campaign "took nearly $20,000 in dirty money from eight lobbyists at Capitol Counsel, the same D.C. lobbying firm that generated $3.3M in profits over a decade from Cardinal Health – and the same firm listed as an ownership interest on Morrisey’s own financial disclosure statement."
Morrisey's campaign responded, saying Jenkins "should be ashamed of himself for attacking" Morrisey.
"Jenkins voted for the “Marino bill” that has been blamed for fueling the opioid crisis," Morrise campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik told The West Virginia Record. "Jenkins has also taken plenty of money from pharmaceutical companies and lobbied for the West Virginia Medical Association for many years."
Soloveichik listed some of the pharmaceutical companies that have donated to Jenkins' campaigns in recent years, including $5,000 from Express Scripts' PAC and $2,000 from the PACs for Novartis, Mylan and Alkermes.
"The truth is, there is only one candidate in this race that has fought to tackle substance abuse in West Virginia and that’s Attorney General Morrisey, whose office reached record-breaking settlements with drug companies who played a role in the opioid crisis," Soloveichik said. "Evan Jenkins is not only a liberal, he’s also a hypocrite."
In addition to Morrisey and Jenkins, former coal miner Bo Copley has announced plans to run as Republicans for the Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Joe Manchin for the 2018 election. Manchin will face primary competition from environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin, who already has been endorsed by the Brand New Congress political action committee formed by former staff members and supporters of Bernie Sanders. Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship also has hinted as running as a Republican or an Independent.