CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two of the state's leading Republicans are at odds over an investigation into West Virginia University's plans to award a lucrative media rights contract.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey abruptly left a meeting with Morgantown businessman John Raese on Monday after Raese wouldn't answer questions about WVU's pending deal with Winston Salem, N.C.-based IMG College.
"Mr. Morrisey got up from his chair, announced he was the attorney general, told us he was angry, asked if we were going to disclose this meeting to the press, and then left the room in a huff," said Bob Gwynne, a Raese lawyer who took part in Monday's meeting in Morgantown.
Raese, who has run unsuccessfully for West Virginia governor and the U.S. Senate on the GOP ticket, has publicly criticized the proposed third-tier media rights contract -- valued at $110 million over 12 years.
Morrisey, who is reviewing the pending deal, said Monday he wanted Raese to explain his allegations. But Raese refused to answer any questions, Morrisey said.
"This is deeply disappointing, especially because Mr. Raese had originally asked our office to become involved in this case," Morrisey said in a prepared statement. "I expected better."
Raese's lawyers have filed multiple requests under the state Freedom of Information Act for documents that detail how IMG was selected.
Raese told Morrisey on Monday he would talk about the proposed contract after WVU turned over the documents he requested February 15, Gwynne said. WVU has said it would respond to his records request April 15.
"Mr. Morrisey appeared to be on a fishing expedition to see what we had," Gwynne said after Monday's meeting. "It's hard for us to tell him all we've found unless we have all the documents."
Gwynne said Morrisey fumed when Raese told him he wouldn't provide any information until WVU complied with his records request. Gwynne said Morrisey didn't explain why WVU had "stonewalled" Raese over his request for the contract-related documents. Morrisey also is representing WVU amid the media rights contract review.
"When we said we weren't going to provide [Morrisey] with anything, he went ballistic," Gwynne recalled. "He said, 'I'm the attorney general.' He said, 'I'm angry.' All we want is a chance to review the documents we requested."
WVU has signed a tentative agreement with IMG College, the Winston Salem firm that's expected to partner on the media rights contract with West Virginia Media Holdings of Charleston.
Raese has asked WVU to scrap the deal and re-bid the contract. He alleges that WVU officials violated university and state purchasing rules when IMG was tentatively selected.