Morrisey earns praise over reforms

CHARLESTON – Local state lawmakers feel West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is on the right track in work he is doing to change preceptions of the Attorney General’s office.

Morrisey announced Monday his office is implementing a comprehensive new ethics package, which includes reforming state “revolving door” policies, implementing competitive bidding for outside counsel appointments, and banning the use of “trinkets” and other self-promotional materials which bear his name.

The new ethics reform package is part of Morrisey’s comprehensive 17-point plan for his first 100 days in office as attorney general.

“As attorney general, I intend to run our office with the highest of ethical standards,” Morrisey said. “I also think that state government, as a whole, should hold itself to a higher standard when it comes to the use of West Virginians’ tax dollars.

“The era of taxpayer-funded self-promotion needs to end across all government.”

Morrisey was elected in November, beating out incumbent Darrell McGraw.

Key measures of Morrisey’s new policy proposals include a Resolution for a Constitutional Amendment limiting the attorney general to two consecutive terms in office; conflicts of interest policies which will provide greater transparency and prevent improper collusion between public and private entities; a substantive, competitive bidding process for outside counsel appointments, which eliminates the potential for abuse and ensures the state obtains the best legal representation at the maximum benefit to taxpayers; a ban on the purchase of trinkets (such as pens, pencils, magnets, and pill boxes) that include the attorney general’s name or likeness, and an election year prohibition on public advertising (television, radio, newspaper, billboard advertisements), which bears the name or likeness of the attorney general; and a prohibition on the use of state vehicles by the attorney general during parades.

The tone Morrisey is taking has the agreement of state lawmakers from Wood County.

Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, said he had not read Morrisey’s proposals, but favors eliminating the “trickets” mentioned as well as putting legal services out to bid when the state attorney’s office needs to bring in others for specific work.

“They should request a proposal to see what these firms will be willing to do and for how much, just as with any other contracts,” Anderson said.

Delegate Tom Azinger, R-Wood, said he read through summaries of what the new attorney general was proposing and believes it will help repair the image of the attorney general’s office.

There have been accusations of abuse during previous terms in the attorney general’s office with mismanagement of money and more, Azinger said.

“I know (Morrisey) will be a refreshing change,” he said.

Azinger said he has talked to Morrisey on a couple of occasions.

“I think he will vastly improve the image of the state,” he said.