HUNTINGTON — Evan Jenkins' Senate campaign says Republican primary opponent Patrick Morrisey has a conflict of interest in the war against opioids.
A recent Charleston Gazette-Mail story said pharmaceutical companies shipped 20.8 million opioid pills to two pharmacies four blocks apart in Williamson, which has a population of about 2,900. The information was uncovered by a congressional committee looking into the opioid crisis.
Jenkins' campaign says Morrisey, who currently is West Virginia's Attorney General, is a former lobbyist for a trade group that represents Miami-Luken.
In February 2016, Morrisey's office settled a state lawsuit against Miami-Luken when the company agreed to pay $2.5 million. Morrisey had inherited the lawsuit when he took office from former AG Darrell McGraw.
Morrisey "ended the lawsuit for just pennies on the dollar," Jenkins' campaign said in a press release. "It’s clear Patrick Morrisey is more interested in protecting his big pharma employer than he is in protecting the people of West Virginia."
Morrisey's campaign dismissed Jenkins' comments.
"Perhaps Evan Jenkins need to spend more time in West Virginia and less time in Washington, D.C.," said Morrisey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik. "Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office has achieved the largest settlements against pharmaceutical companies in West Virginia’s history, and the Martinsburg Journal has said about Morrisey, 'No state official has been more effective in the struggle against drug abuse.'
"Evan Jenkins is so desperate to distract voters from his 20-year-long liberal Democratic record that’s he’ll say anything, even the same, debunked lies used by Morrisey’s Democratic opponents. No amount of lies will cover up the fact the Jenkins was part of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s team for years."
Jenkins' campaign also released a web video it says highlights "Morrisey's grace conflict of interest.
"Morrisey continues to sell out West Virginians to protect his Big Pharma employer," the campaign said in a press release unveiling the video. "This conflict of interest is no surprise. Not only was Morrisey a lobbyist for a trade group that represents Miami-Luken, in the first three months since announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate Morrisey accepted over $100,000 in campaign cash from Big Pharma."
Morrisey and Jenkins, currently a U.S. Congressman representing West Virginia's Third District, will face primary competition from former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, former coal miner Bo Copley from Delbarton, Martinsburg businessman Tom Willis and Weirton truck driver Jack Newbrough. Manchin will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Raleigh County environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin.