CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey accused Democrats in the House of Delegates of "blatant hostility" Friday, after they introduced a bill that targets the highest-paid lawyer in Morrisey's office because he can't practice in a West Virginia courtroom.
The legislation (HB2788) requires that state government attorneys who make more than $100,000 have a license to practice law in West Virginia when they're hired.
Elbert Lin, who was initially hired as Morrisey's solicitor general last month, has practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts, but isn't expected to receive his West Virginia law license for several months. Lin makes $132,000 a year.
"This is petty partisan politics at its worst and shows what certain delegates' priorities are," Morrisey said Friday.
Delegate Doug Reynolds, the bill's lead sponsor, said lawyers hired by the state "shouldn't go on the state payroll until they can hit the ground running."
"The people we hire for a job, they need to be able to do the job from day one," said Reynolds, D-Wayne.
He said the bill wouldn't affect just Lin.
"It affects all state agencies," said Reynolds. "We didn't do this just for the attorney general's office."
After Lin was on the job for one day last month, Morrisey quietly changed his job title from solicitor general to "senior assistant to the attorney general."
Without a West Virginia law license, Lin can't sign legal pleadings or appear in court on the state's behalf. Even so, Morrisey's office continues to pay Lin $132,000.