The drug company paid Henry's lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, $400,000 last year, and another $210,00 between January and June 30, according to lobbying disclosure forms. Since 2001, Cardinal Health has paid $3.7 million to lobbying firms that Henry has worked for or owned.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Health executives donated $4,000 to Morrisey's campaign last year, $3,000 of which came after McGraw's office filed suit against the company. A company vice president also contributed $1,000 to Morrisey's campaign last December, a month after he defeated McGraw. Morrisey is holding post-election fundraisers to help retire his campaign debt.
In his statement last July, Morrisey indicated that his wife's long-time lobbying work for Cardinal Health and the company's campaign contributions didn't prompt his decision to step down from the lawsuit.
Morrisey cited another reason: He alleged that McGraw "implied" to him at a parade last year that McGraw filed the Cardinal Health lawsuit to retaliate against Morrisey's campaign.
"While McGraw's statements disturbed me greatly and led me to believe that at least some part of that case was politically motivated, after I took office I decided that, not withstanding McGraw's comments, West Virginians deserved the case to be decided on the merits," Morrisey said in July.
"While not required under the law, because of McGraw's ethically problematic comments, earlier this year, I recused myself from the litigation as it pertains to Cardinal Health," Morrisey went on. "My chief counsel, Dan Greear, has been managing the special assistant attorneys general [outside counsel] since the beginning of the year."
McGraw has said he never talked with Morrisey about the Cardinal Health case.
The Gazette-Mail later requested documents about Morrisey's decision to distance himself from the Cardinal Health lawsuit. Morrisey responded that he recused himself "orally" -- not in writing.
On Sept. 16, weeks after The Charleston Gazette reported on Morrisey's ties to Cardinal Health, Carter met with Greear, but Morrisey did not attend that meeting.
In a commentary published in the Charleston Daily Mail days earlier, Morrisey disclosed that he had attended meetings with Cardinal Health representatives about "prescription drug strategies," but he provided no details. The commentary followed a Gazette Freedom of Information Act request for information about his meetings with Cardinal Health lawyers.
Morrisey 'has been very open' about meetings on drug abuse
The lawsuit alleges the drug wholesaler distributed powerful painkillers, such as hydrocodone, to "pill mill" pharmacies and doctors in Southern West Virginia. Doctors prescribed the drugs and pharmacies dispensed them for illegal use, according to the lawsuit.
Last year, the DEA suspended Cardinal Health's federal license to distribute controlled substances from its Florida warehouse on charges that the company allowed pharmacies to purchase excessive amounts of painkillers.
It wasn't the first time the company has been in trouble with federal authorities. In 2008, Cardinal Health paid a $34 million fine after the DEA cited the company's Lakeland, Fla., distribution center for failing to notice suspicious orders for the hydrocodone.
After McGraw filed suit against Cardinal Health last year, the company hired former U.S. Senator Carte Goodwin as its attorney.
In April, Cardinal Health abruptly discharged Goodwin and replaced him with Carter, who's politically tied to Morrisey.
After winning the election, Morrisey named Carter co-chairman of his 26-member transition team "steering committee," a group set up to "offer perspectives on strategies and approaches for managing the West Virginia Attorney General's Office," according to a news release at the time.
Carter gave $500 to Morrisey's campaign in September 2012, and $75 to the attorney general's inaugural party fund in January, records show. Carter did not respond to a request for comment last week.
In the statement released by Morrisey's office last week, Ryan said, "The state's battle with drug abuse is one of our office's most important consumer protection initiatives."
A health-care group recently released a report that found West Virginia has the highest drug-overdose rate in the nation. Cardinal Health is the nation's second-largest drug distributor.
"Attorney General Morrisey has been very open about the fact he has had discussions and meetings with many individuals and companies about efforts already underway, as well as steps we as a state can take to tackle West Virginia's drug epidemic," Ryan said. "West Virginia has a very serious crisis on its hands when it comes to overdose deaths from prescription drugs."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.