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Morrisey gives himself a B-plus for first 100 days

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a 279-page "progress report" Wednesday for his first 100 days on the job and gave himself a B-plus grade.

During his campaign, Morrisey outlined 17 specific goals that he planned to accomplish within 100 days of taking office. Morrisey, a Republican, defeated longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw in the November election.

At a press conference Wednesday -- his third in nine days -- Morrisey said he accomplished many of the goals in his "17-point plan," while taking significant steps to complete other objectives. In the report, Morrisey provided copies of letters, memos, lawsuits, newspaper articles and other documents to support his assertion that he had kept his promises.

"The goals of the plan were to advance ethics reforms, promote freedom, begin the process of taking on the federal government, and improve the state's business climate," Morrisey said. "Much work remains, but I firmly believe we have honored our promises to the public and have made significant efforts to achieve all of the points of the plan."

At the same time, Morrisey said, his office continues to represent state agencies and enforce state consumer protection laws. The attorney general noted that his office completed a comprehensive review of West Virginia University's plans to award a media rights contract to IMG College and West Virginia Media. The critical review prompted WVU to re-bid the lucrative contract.

Morrisey said he won't give his office an A grade until West Virginia's business climate improves.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," he said. "Similarly, it will take more than 100 days to fundamentally improve our state's business climate."

Morrisey started addressing some of the 17 items during his first several days in office.

In January, he held a news conference to announce he was eliminating "self-promoting" trinkets -- pens, magnets, pill boxes -- with his name on them. During the campaign, Morrisey criticized McGraw for using taxpayer funds to buy trinkets.

Also in January, Morrisey also announced plans to prohibit broad-based office advertising six months before an election.

Morrisey's office subsequently started an audit of office expenses. Last month, he established a new system for hiring outside lawyers, who now must submit bids for state work.

Morrisey seems to have scrambled in recent days to meet some goals, such as holding a "jobs summit" and fighting prescription drug abuse.

Last week, Morrisey held a news conference to announce the start of his "jobs summit listening tour." Earlier this week, he put out a news release to announce plans to partner with the state Division of Protective Services on "National Drug Take-back Day" on Saturday -- which he listed as an "action taken" to meet the prescription drug abuse goal.

He previously sent a letter -- along with attorneys general in 47 states -- to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, asking the agency to take steps to make general pain pills harder to abuse. 

As part of that same goal, Morrisey promised to "request new prosecutorial authority" from the Legislature to crack down on prescription drug abuse.

But Morrisey didn't make that request -- to Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Rick Thompson -- until April 11, two days before the legislative session ended, according to a letter released in his 279-page progress report titled "Promises Made, Promises Kept."

In the same April 11 letter, Morrisey also asks for "expanded authority" to crack down on election fraud -- promise number 13 in his 17-point plan.

Morrisey's promise to "educate West Virginians on health care" also was seemingly addressed within the past week. Morrisey said his office teamed up with the Department of Health and Human Resources to co-host a town-hall meeting on Medicare last Friday.

His 100th day on the job was Tuesday.

At Wednesday's news conference, Morrisey said "there's nothing like a deadline" to get things done.

"The goals we set many months ago were aggressive and viewed by some to be impossible, but the office has taken significant steps to tackle each point," Morrisey said. "Obviously, some of these issues cannot be completed in 100 days or even four years, but by taking these 17 steps now and continuing to work toward solutions for the remainder of my term, we will be able to see substantive changes in not only the Office of the Attorney General, but the state as a whole."

In his final promise in the 17-point plan, Morrisey said he would determine whether to take disciplinary action against any office employees for past unethical behavior. Wednesday's report said Morrisey's office was conducting an internal audit, and he would consider "potential discipline" after the review is completed.

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

 


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