West Virginians should thank Attorney General Morrisey and Murray Energy Corporation for leading the charge to block this legally flawed EPA proposal in the court of law. The lawsuit, and those yet to come, will help avoid the pain that EPA’s proposal will inflict on West Virginia families, workers and employers.
Attorneys general used to act something like real lawyers. But more recently, they have become more like at-large representatives of their political constituencies, and their donors. Morrisey might be the paradigmatic example of the trend, even going so far as to misrepresent West Virginia’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act in order to strike a partisan pose.
It seems as if every day brings a new Obamacare disaster—missed deadlines, soaring costs, unintelligible bureaucratic requirements. Now add the risk of potential rampant identity theft to the list. Last week, the Obama Administration doled out tens of millions of dollars to “community groups” across the country, with few strings attached. These groups — and those posing as them — could gain access to consumer addresses, Social Security numbers, and medical information. It’s the President’s gift to some of his grassroots allies. And it could be a bonanza for identity thieves..
For that particular piece of fear-mongering, Morrisey deserves some kind of award because, while all the other concerns about Obamacare proved to be mere wild exaggerations – it’s true that some premiums increased, some doctors retired, some deficits increased, some people lost their insurance and health care costs increased somewhat, although, in all cases, far less than even supporters of the program expected – the identity theft scourge predicted by the Attorney General failed to manifest at all.As far as anyone knows, not a single identity has been stolen by an Affordable Care Act navigator. None. Zero. Zilch. Morrisey’s failed prediction might be spoken of in the same breath as those about Y2K and weapons of mass destruction had many people listened to him, which thankfully they did not.
“When the state opted to join the federal exchange, the decision was made based on the understanding that credits would be available,” Tomblin spokeswoman Shayna Varner said last week. “Governor Tomblin was not consulted before the attorney general filed his amicus brief, and the brief does not reflect the state’s understanding of the law when the decision to join the federal exchange was initially made.”
In West Virginia, more than 33,000 people have signed up for private health insurance on the exchange, according to the DHHS. Of those, 85 percent qualified for subsidies, according to the DHHS. The average monthly subsidy, per person, is $314, according to the DHHS. Do the math, and West Virginians buying health insurance stand to lose roughly $106 million in federal subsidies in 2015 if the lawsuit is successful.It’s unclear what would happen if the court rules that subsidies are not available in West Virginia. Health insurance likely would become unaffordable for thousands of West Virginians. In that case, it’s likely that only the unhealthiest people would continue to buy insurance, which would drive up premiums even more for those still in the exchange, said Perry Bryant, director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.“It’s not a rosy picture without those subsidies,” Bryant said.
Running for governor – what a surprise!
A front page article in the Intelligencer confirmed what Wheeling "newspapers" were already acting upon: WV’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (genus carpetbagger electus) will likely run for governor. That is, after he’s had a "transformational effect" on the AG’s office. Given his weekly publicity stunts and the papers’ coverage of them, it was inevitable.
Planning for his next election campaign, Patrick Morrisey moves to secure the NRA vote
Despite the fact that Maryland’s gun law has no effect upon West Virginia, our Attorney General is leading a challenge to Maryland’s ban on military-style weapons. As the Baltimore Sun reports:
Led by West Virginia's attorney general, 21 states have joined a legal effort seeking to overturn Maryland's tough new gun control law.
The Maryland statute has no effect on gun laws in their states, but the attorneys general argue in an amicus brief filed this month that Maryland's law was written too broadly and violates the Second Amendment rights of their citizens.
"States must band together in times when they see citizens' rights being diminished or infringed upon," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in statement released when he filed the brief. "If the courts decide this law passes muster, it would undermine a core part of the Second Amendment."
On the other side, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will also be filing a "friend of the court" brief. Jonathan E. Lowy, the director of its legal action project, says that this is really about political posturing:
"There's absolutely no interest for West Virginia to have more people in Maryland buying and possessing assault weapons," Lowry said. "There's no court decision that could say the people of West Virginia must have an assault weapons ban. That's not an issue. That's a political decision. There is just no legitimate reason for the attorney general of West Virginia to be fighting the gun lobby's fight."
What about the publicity and a future NRA endorsement for Morrisey’s next political campaign? No, Lowry is correct – there is no "legitimate" reason.
A week ago Sunday I wrote about the News-Register’s front page non-story in which Attorney General Patrick Morrisey complained that the legislature was not consulting him. I wrote the story off as the News-Register just giving him publicity before he began his next political campaign. While that may have been true, apparently this wanting to get the AG’s office involved in matters outside its domain is a much wider occurrence and not as innocent as Morrisey suggests. Sunday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail features a front page story in which a number of county prosecutors are saying that Morrisey is trying to get the AG’s office involved in local prosecutions – something the prosecutor’s state association says is only permitted in circumstances involving the prison system.
As Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia (a Republican, by the way) noted: "This is not about Morrisey wanting to help one prosecutor in a county. It’s really about the attorney general getting prosecution powers that they never had."
Additionally, today’s Charleston Gazette brings word that a Cabel County businessman, Andrew D. Nelson, has filed an ethics complaint against Morrisey arguing that:
Morrisey has "an incurable conflict of interest" with two attorney general lawsuits against drug wholesalers accused of fueling Southern West Virginia’s prescription drug problem.
Nelson says the board should discipline Morrisey because he hasn’t properly distanced himself from the cases, which he inherited from former attorney general Darrell McGraw.
Morrisey was a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist for a drug industry trade group that represents 10 of the drug distributors that his office is now suing. Morrisey’s wife, Denise Henry, also lobbies for another lawsuit defendant, Cardinal Health.
The conflict of interest charge is not new and when the legislature tried to pass legislation earlier this year that tried to prevent this type of conflict of interest, the Wheeling papers gave only Morissey’s point of view.
Of course, Wheeling papers are not covering either of these stories. Long-time readers of Wheeling "newspapers" can only imagine the outrage if former AG Daryl McGraw had taken either of these actions. (For those unfamiliar with how the local "newspapers" treated McGraw, the animosity they currently show toward President Obama and Harry Reid doesn't begin to match the near-constant criticism that McGraw received during his tenure.)
Patrick Morrisey watch
Patrick Morrisey, our carpetbagger Attorney General, once again gets lots of column inches in today’s News-Register. This time it’s a front page story, "Morrisey: Legislators Need to Consult AG." Here’s the shorter version of a long article – the Attorney General thinks the legislature needs to consult him more. After I finished the article, I googled "Morrisey" with "legislature" to see how other West Virginia newspapers were handling this non-story. Not surprisingly, the only other hit on this subject was for the same article in another Ogden-owned newspaper, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Obviously, despite its appearance on the front page, this is not a real story. What I think is happening is that Morrisey is going to run for governor or perhaps challenge Manchin in 2016 and the Ogden papers are giving him all the free publicity they can give him – we’re two years away but it’s never too early to start laying the groundwork for his campaign. (I believe it’s also the primary reason Morrisey has West Virginia leading a bound-to-loose law suit against the EPA.)
Editorial: "Defending Against Invasive Species"
When I saw the headline, I was surprised. Given the front page story, is the News-Register really going to do an editorial against Attorney General Morrisey? (Genus – carpetbagger electus or is carpetbagger erectus – I always get those two confused!) To my disappointment, the editorial was about gypsy moths.
Covering the worldwide environmental march
Could the Sunday News-Register be the only paper in the country that didn’t have an article about what will likely be the largest environmental march ever? Maybe. Despite not previewing the event, I think we can look forward to a future editorial or column about how all these radical environmentalists (is there any other kind?) and long-haired hippie types are secretly getting their marching orders from Harry Reid.