AG's office says it has released all the records it can 'at this stage' to Democratic group

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 31, 2018

CHARLESTON – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office says it has complied with counsel for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to release all requested records "at this stage" and calls the actions of the group wasteful and purely political.

During a hearing Oct. 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court, attorneys for the DSCC said it had not received all of the documents it requested from Morrisey’s office about his correspondence with major drug companies. It also said it hadn’t received a Vaughn index, which is a list of what was being withheld and why. It also said the documents that had been handed over had been given to the DSCC past the Oct. 26 deadline.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster had ordered Morrisey’s office to turn over the documents by that deadline.

The DSCC had requested the information in a Freedom of Information Act request in October 2017 and filed its lawsuit Oct. 15, 2018. It sought correspondence between the AG’s office and major drug companies such as Cardinal Health. Before becoming AG in 2013, Morrisey worked for a Washington, D.C., law firm that did lobbying work for the pharmaceutical industry, and his wife also previously lobbied for Cardinal Health.

Many people have blamed companies such as Cardinal Health for contributing to the opioid epidemic that has plagued West Virginia. Sen. Joe Manchin, who Morrisey is trying to unseat in the Nov. 6 election, blames Morrisey for being part of that problem.

“There are seven days until the election and Patrick Morrisey is still hiding critical documents related to his relationship with the companies at the center of West Virginia’s drug epidemic,” DSCC spokesman David Bergstein told The West Virginia Record. “Voters deserve to know immediately what former opioid lobbyist Morrisey is hiding.”

AG spokesman Curtis Johnson was critical of the DSCC but said the office is working to get everything done.

“The Senate Democrat political organization is just trying to play politics and waste taxpayer resources even though it knows our office has bent over backward to go through its unprecedented and massive fishing expedition that originally requested records from more than 450 people,” Johnson told The Record. “Our office, in consultation with opposing counsel, has provided all non-exempt documents requested at this stage and works toward providing a Vaughn index in short order.

“As the Senate Democrats finally prioritized the scope of their request, our office has spent hundreds of manpower hours to comply. These round-the-clock efforts, to respond to nothing more than a request designed to score a political hit, complement months of work completed prior to the lawsuit as our office had already fully responded to 12 of the plaintiff’s 18 requests and partially to another.

“Our office, just as it would in any other case, has achieved this past week’s progress by working with opposing counsel to prioritize its request so as to provide the greatest, most efficient response. Those discussions remain ongoing. Our office looks forward to resolving this matter.”

In 2012, before Morrisey took office, former AG Darrell McGraw’s office sued Cardinal Health, saying the company contributed to West Virginia’s opioid epidemic by shipping more than 241 million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to the state from 2007 to 2012.

Shortly after Morrisey took office, he stepped away from the case because of his history with Cardinal Health. In 2017, Cardinal settled the case for $20 million.

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