CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Morgantown businessman John Raese wants West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to stay out of a review of West Virginia University's hotly-contested media rights contract, saying Morrisey has "wasted taxpayers' money."
Last week, Morrisey released a 24-page report that found WVU athletic director Oliver Luck and other university officials made "significant errors" while evaluating companies' proposals for WVU's third-tier media and sponsorship rights. But the attorney general concluded there was no "intentional wrongdoing."
On Monday, Raese accused Morrisey of failing to disclose "material facts" in his report that would show significant misconduct by WVU leaders. Raese, who requested that Morrisey investigate the multi-million dollar media rights deal, now says he was wrong to do so.
"In my opinion, it is time for Mr. Morrisey to go back to Charleston and quit wasting taxpayers' money on meaningless reviews that are done under the attorney-client privilege," Raese said in a prepared statement. "I thought the attorney general was there to protect the interests of the people of West Virginia. Instead, he appears to me to be nothing more than a good old-fashioned politician."
Morrisey's office responded Monday that it stood by the report.
"The report raised significant issues with the first bidding process and recommended a new one -- free from actual or potential conflicts of interest and errors of the past," said Beth Ryan, a spokeswoman for Morrisey. "The office looks forward to helping to resolve these issues productively instead of engaging in a back and forth with individuals who still have a significant economic interest in the outcome of this matter."
Raese, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year, suggested that the state Legislature's Commission on Special Investigations look into WVU's handling of bids for the media rights contract.
In his three-page press release, Raese criticized WVU officials for stating that they "misspoke" when quoted about the proposed contract in newspaper articles. Raese also faults Morrisey for not taking WVU officials to task for "conflicting statements." Morrisey, a Republican, is representing the university in the dispute.
"I would like to know if anybody can speak without misspeaking or abusing the word 'misspoke,'" Raese said. "When does misspeaking become something else? As the old saying goes, 'Oh, the web we weave.'"
Also Monday, Raese asked WVU to put the brakes on plans to rebid the lucrative media rights contract -- valued at $110 million over 12 years.
In a 14-page bid protest, Raese urged WVU to re-establish a three-member committee -- minus WVU athletic director Oliver Luck -- and review Raese-owned West Virginia Radio Corp.'s proposal along with bids from four other companies.
Raese asked WVU to disqualify IMG College -- the company that won a tentative contract the first time around.
WVU announced last week that it planned to rebid the contract.
"What we're saying is evaluate the bids as they are without a rebid," said Bob Gwynne, a lawyer for Raese-owned Greer Industries Inc. "Our bids should be considered with other bids, but IMG's bid should be disqualified because it's been tainted by the actions of Luck and [Board of Governors Chairman] Drew Payne."
Morrisey's office found that Luck broke confidentiality rules by notifying Payne about the media rights contract -- both before and after WVU solicited bids.