Darrell McGraw, the specialist in barratry who has served profited as West Virginia's Attorney General for nearly twenty years, recently made headlines when he assaulted a staffer from the opposition campaign.
"I don't get into debates about how to enforce the law."
Ironically, McGraw's official Dot-Gov biography says "He is known for enjoying a good philosophical debate and a good joke."
The joke, I'm afraid, is on the citizens of West Virginia. McGraw explained the way he sees his job in a meeting with the editorial board of the Charleston Daily Mail:
"Ultimately, the Attorney General’s Office is involved in protecting consumers in a financial transaction. It is what we do."
So for the better part of two decades, McGraw has been participating in lawsuits in order to raise revenue (which the state then pours down its benefits hole), and it is on this basis that he's running for a record fifth term.
The Daily Mail, continued:
.... McGraw said his office has brought in more than $2 billion from consumer protection actions since he was first elected in 1992.
.... McGraw's office plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars this year advertising its services to consumers and much, if not all, of that advertising will bear McGraw's name. A large portion of the money will come from a national mortgage settlement that attorneys general from across the country entered into earlier this year.
McGraw said if cases are settled, the services the settlements offer West Virginians have to be advertised. He said he believes a lawyer's name needs to be on ads that advertise such legal services.
"The election and the settlement coincide - and guess what?" McGraw said. "I'm glad."
WV's Democrat governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, only narrowly won election in 2011, by a two-point margin.
According to JudicialHellholes.org (where WV ranks No. 3 among all such hellholes in the nation), state Attorney General McGraw "has frequently come under fire for ... teaming up with private personal injury law firms and using settlement money collected on behalf of the public to fund his own pet projects."
A recent report by the Manhattan Institute called McGraw a “pioneer in suing pharmaceutical companies” and noted that he has “courted an army of ‘special assistant’ attorneys general,” i.e., private personal injury lawyers, who take a significant share of any recovery, along with a considerable interest in McGraw’s reelections.
West Virginians are paying the price. A federal appellate court in July ruled that the federal government may withhold Medicaid funds from West Virginia because McGraw owed the feds $446,607 from a 2004 settlement as reimbursement for amounts the federal government spent on Medicaid in the state that year. Rather than put the settlement funds toward healthcare funding, McGraw gave the bulk of the money collected in a settlement with a pharmaceutical firm to the Public Employees Insurance Agency and retained a portion in his office’s consumer protection fund. The ruling is expected to have a similar effect on a pending claim by the federal government that McGraw shortchanged them $2.7 million from a $10 million settlement he reached with another drug company for “aggressively marketing” Oxycontin. McGraw unilaterally decided to donate those funds to substance-abuse programs around the state and to the University of Charleston for a pharmacy school. In both instances, McGraw avoided giving the money to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources in an attempt to prevent the federal Medicaid program from collecting mandated reimbursements.
Handpicked personal injury lawyers hired to represent the state received substantial fees in both cases. For instance, as the Manhattan Institute documents, McGraw hired four private firms that had given $47,500 to his campaigns to handle one such case. These firms collected $3 million in fees from the state’s recovery.
West Virginians have become used to having crooks on the ballot. Maybe that's why Keith Judd's strong showing against Obama back in May didn't shock as many people here as it did elsewhere.
I would be negligent, however, if I didn't mention that there are still many good people here who are devoted this beautiful place and are fighting hard to clean up our politics, election after election.
.... After decades of Democratic dominance, West Virginia voted for the Republican candidate in the last three presidential elections....
The ... question is: [W]ill state-level races, where Democrats still dominate, begin to shift and match the state’s Republican preference in presidential elections?
According to history professor Robert Rupp, “You can’t have a two-legged stool. At some point West Virginia is going to change.”
If you'd like to help steer my state in a desperately needed new direction, I urge you to contribute to the Patrick Morrisey for Attorney General campaign, Bill Maloney's campaign for Governor and/or West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.
We could certainly use the help.