Last month, the Sunday Gazette-Mail reported that Morrisey's inaugural party committee accepted a $2,500 contribution from Cardinal Health, the same company Morrisey's office had a lawsuit against alleging the drug wholesaler helped fuel Southern West Virginia's problem with prescription pain pill abuse. McGraw's office filed the lawsuit in June 2012 in Boone County Circuit Court.
Morissey's wife also lobbies for Cardinal Health. The Dublin, Ohio-based drug distributor paid her lobbying firm $400,00 last year, and another $100,000 during the first three months of this year, according to Henry's lobbying disclosure forms.
In response to the report, Morrisey has said that he stepped aside from the Cardinal Health lawsuit when he took office in mid-January. He said Greear has managed the case ever since.
In late July, the Sunday-Gazette Mail asked Morrisey to provide any documents that would show he recused himself from the Cardinal case. Morrisey provided none, saying that his recusal was "communicated orally," according to his response to the newspaper's FOIA request. He did not elaborate.
Asked about the Cardinal Health case last month, Morrisey alleged that McGraw spoke to him about the lawsuit during a campaign stop in 2012, and that McGraw implied that he filed the lawsuit against the drug company to retaliate against Morrisey. McGraw said he never spoke to Morrisey about the Cardinal Health case.
In April, Cardinal Health removed former U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin as its lawyer on the case and hired two attorneys politically connected to Morrisey.
One of Cardinal Health's new lawyers, Mark A. Carter, headed Morrisey's campaign transition team before the attorney general took office Jan. 14.
The drug company's other lawyer, Henry Jernigan, contributed $500 to Morrisey's inaugural party fund, and another $1,000 at Morrisey's political fundraisers.
Cardinal Health would not say why it discharged Goodwin.
The lawsuit alleges that the drug wholesaler distributed excessive quantities of powerful painkillers, such as OxyContin, to "pill mill" pharmacies and doctors in Southern West Virginia.
Morrisey's office has filed no court records that show the attorney general stepped aside from the Cardinal and Sanofi cases. Morrisey has said the courts don't require him to do so.
"While not required to step aside, I have decided to not be personally involved in these two cases because I want to avoid any perception that these matters will not be pursued vigorously and on their own merits," Morrisey said.
The attorney general also noted that his office hasn't dismissed the outside law firms -- hired by McGraw last year -- now handling the lawsuits.
Lawyers from one of those firms -- Frankovitch Anetakis Colantonio & Simon -- gave Morrisey $6,000 at a post-election fundraiser at a Weirton country club last December. One of the firm's lawyers also served on Morrisey's transition team. The firm, which did not respond to a request for comment, is assisting on the Sanofi case.
Last week, Greear notified outside lawyers assigned to the Sanofi case that "the attorney general will not be involved in any aspects of this case," according to an email sent by Greear.
Morrisey said that his office hasn't backed off the Cardinal and Sanofi lawsuits.
"While some people play politics with serious matters," he said, "I'm confident that our office and all of the outside counsel firms who were hired by Darrell McGraw and continue in that capacity will zealously pursue all allegations of wrongdoing, reach a just result, and protect our state's interests."Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.