West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey spent approximately two hours speaking with area constituents on a variety of issues during a townhall meeting at the Tyler County Senior Center on May 6.
"I really benefit from going to these town halls," he noted. "I take seriously the concept that I'm working for you and take an effort to go to all counties." Morrisey estimated that the May 6 townhall meeting was his 39th. "It is important to be back here to learn about unique issues that affect your county."
"Whether I agree with you or not, or you agree with me or not, I can learn about unique challenges you face. I can apply that, so I know I appreciate these forums, because I get to learn every time I come out, and I'm grateful for coming out and you providing me with perspectives. Even though we have a team of 190 some odd people, we have a team of West Virginia, and that's why I'm here."
Morrisey gave his audience a brief summary of his office's activities since his first year in office, including the fact that he has returned $16.5 million to the state's general fund. He also spoke briefly on his office's hiring processes.
"You get to go on our website of who we hired and how we did it. You get to look at bids, and you get to decide whether we made the right decision or not. It's just not the lowest bid. Quality has to matter. It's important to get the right people in place . . . We are getting a wide array of people."
Morrisey said that the attorney general's office gets there by hiring "top-notch" lawyers. "We've brought in a lot of the top-notch lawyers-lawyers that worked as prosecutors and worked on the ethics commission. If you are dealing with the state of West Virginia and working with a professional lawyer who is ever known as fair and impartial at supporting the law, that matters. The reputation spreads. It works as an ethics perspective and as a business perspective. Rule is passed impartially, and that is what we try to do.
"I have to go out and recruit the best possible talent to make sure the state's attorney general's office is one of the best law firms in the state. I have to make sure the attorney general's office is one of the best in the country."
Furthermore, Morrisey stated his office has transformed its function to "really enforce the rule of the law."
"Everyone deserves to be treated the same in West Virginia," he noted, "and that includes the federal government. It's the same as any other entity that has violated the law. If it's not abiding to the rule of law, we don't hesitate to step forward and file briefs, to let the federal government know that it is going to be held to the same standard. We have been working on that and making good process. We've been building coalitions with other states and with each other.
"We do a lot of work on scams," Morrisey noted. "We try to put a lot of attention on consumer scams because they seem to happen every day. We want to let people know about it. A lot of the people who commit these scams work outside of borders-the state and the country. We want to make sure we educate you about it, because it's hard to catch someone in Barbados or Nigeria. When we hear about the scams, we alert you to it."
Morrisey stated that his office in involved in the representation of 60 state agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Resources. "We have 17 lawyers doing work for them and 12 doing work for the Department of Motor Vehicles." Morrisey stated that the office also has an appellate practice of over a dozen people. "When criminal matters go before the supreme court. We step in the prosecutor's shoes . . . There's a lot of different work we do. We are trying to do a lot of good work for the state. We have to defend state laws at all times.
"We have broad investigative powers in the office," he stated. "We have vibrant consumer protection, but we are also focused on eradicating substance abuse. We've established that function within the office. I think substance abuse is a consumer protection priority," Morrisey noted.
"Ultimately I work for you, and I want to be as transparent as possible . . . There are some things I can't talk about, such as if we have a case that is currently pending in litigation."
For more information about West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, go to the attorney general's website at www.wvago.gov/. Morrisey also has a Facebook page, listed under "Patrick Morrisey." After his Tuesday night townhall meeting with Tyler County residents, Morrisey wrote the following on his Facebook: "Enjoyed a wonderful evening hosting Town Hall meetings in Doddridge and Tyler counties. The people attending were very concerned about the severe infrastructure problems in this region of West Virginia. Am grateful to the many people who came out tonight -- I learn a great deal at these meetings and do my best to apply the good ideas that I hear to my day to day job as your Attorney General."