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Morrisey campaign debt tops $1.3M

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has collected $167,000 at post-election fundraisers since December, but his campaign remains saddled by $1.3 million in debt, according to Morrisey's latest campaign financial statement.

Morrisey, who defeated Darrell McGraw in the November election, loaned his campaign $1.4 million last year.

In December, Morrisey raised $55,000 at a Washington, D.C. post-election event, his campaign financials show. Donors included Washington lobbyists, and health-care, pharmaceutical and tobacco company political action committees. The fundraiser was held at an office building on Washington's K Street, where numerous lobbying firms are headquartered. Morrisey formerly worked at a law firm on K Street.

Asked why he would hold a fundraiser outside West Virginia, Morrisey said Monday, "It's particularly difficult to raise money in West Virginia because of the low contribution limits and the state of the economy."

Morrisey said he wouldn't allow out-of-state donors to influence his decisions as West Virginia's attorney general.

"My campaign accepts contributions from a wide variety of sources so that we will have sufficient resources to ensure that voters can make a meaningful decision at the ballot box," Morrisey said in a prepared statement. "We take the First Amendment quite seriously and will not shy away from exercising our free speech rights."

Earlier in December, Morrisey netted $67,000 at a fundraiser at The Summit conference center in downtown Charleston. The Patriot Coal Co. PAC, as well as Patriot CEO Bennett Hatfield, donated to Morrisey's campaign at the event, according to Morrisey's campaign finance report.

Earlier this month, thousands of union supporters rallied against Patriot Coal in downtown Charleston, protesting a proposal from the company to cut employee and retiree health benefits.

Sixteen people were arrested at the end of the demonstration, including United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts.

Morrisey said Monday he would not return Patriot Coal's campaign contributions.

"We accept monies from a wide variety of individuals regardless of their political affiliation or economic status," Morrisey said. "Our campaign accepts monies from people we agree with on certain issues and disagree with on certain issues."

At the Charleston post-election fundraiser, numerous Charleston lawyers also donated to Morrisey. Some of those lawyers previously gave campaign contributions to McGraw, who served as attorney general for 20 years.

Morrisey said lawyers who recently donated to his post-election campaign wouldn't receive special treatment in securing contract work through the attorney general's office. During the campaign, Morrisey criticized the way McGraw hired outside counsel.

Morrisey has previously announced plans to require outside lawyers to bid on state jobs. The new hiring policy will take politics out of hiring decisions, Morrisey said Monday. He said he would "treat every citizen the same regardless of political affiliation or economic status."

"Under this administration, the law will never favor any specific person or law firm," Morrisey said. "The rule of law will govern."

Also in late December, Morrisey collected $6,750 at a fundraiser at the Williams Country Club in Weirton.

Morrisey raised an additional $36,000 from individual donors and political action committees from December through March.

He paid $76,600 in campaign expenses during the reporting period. The bulk of the money went to pay campaign consultants.

Morrisey has repaid $83,000 of the $1.4 million he loaned his campaign over the past three months.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.

 

 


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