PARKERSBURG - Since he took office more than a year ago, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has made changes to the office and hopes to help the state grow.
"Educating West Virginians on what the attorney general's office does is difficult," said Morrisey, who was in the Parkersburg area Tuesday for the AARP Scam Jam. "We think it is critical for the public to understand what is going on in their state government."
The goal of the office, according to Morrisey, is to enforce laws regardless of social and economic status of the individuals or groups involved.
Photo by Jolene Craig
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey speaks with members of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial staff Tuesday afternoon regarding the changes in the state office with his leadership as well as the office’s newest focus on helping the state’s economic growth.
Since he took office in January 2013, Morrisey said he has focused on being as bipartisan as possible within the office and seeks to offer aid to all who request it.
"I try to operate the office neutral to politics and work with both Democrats and Republicans equally," he said. "The key is to have the judgment to separate the office from the personal political views.
"Every side needs and deserves their own representation," Morrisey added. "Everyone is treated the same, that is our goal."
Because the office of the attorney general exists to represent the legal interests of the state, its residents and its businesses, Morrisey said being available to everyone is a priority.
"We are involved in an advisory capacity that could see the attorney general's office on both sides of an issue and I am a firm believer that every side needs their own representation," he said. "It is the hard part of the job that there will always be state entities needing representation."
In the roughly 16 months since Morrisey took office, he said there has been a positive response.
"We have received good feedback on how we have reshaped the attorney general's office," said Morrisey.
Morrisey said his office should play a fundamental role in the state's economy and plans to help other state offices in attracting businesses.
"The attorney general's office is fighting very hard to increase ethics and transparency in the state," he said. "We are going to have to grow and quickly to remain a state."
To help the state attract businesses and build the economy, Morrisey said he is trying to build a bipartisan coalition with as many groups and organizations as possible.
"There is a lot we can do, but we have to be proactive and start now," he said. "It is best if we in the state government work together to bring businesses in."
Morrisey said he wants his office to not only protect the consumers of the state, but to also help create a strong economic climate through growth.
"If we were able to tap into all of our energy resources - coal, oil and natural gas - we could do so much more," Morrisey said. "If we don't focus on super-charging our economy right now, we will be left out later."
Morrisey is concentrating on getting to know the state and its regions.
"We are trying to peel away the layers to learn about each region and county as individuals," he said.
This is being done by collecting data about each region monthly to know about the local economies and what is important to the residents of each area.
"Knowing what is going on in each region or county will help us better advocate for the people of West Virginia," Morrisey said.