Attorney General Darrell McGraw Named Fifth Worst State AG by Competitive Enterprise Institute

By westvirginia on July 12, 2010
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Out of 50 state attorneys general, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw was ranked the fifth worst in a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In the report, titled “The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General,” author Hans Bader highlights six attorneys general and the actions that put them on the list.

The six attorneys general were graded in four key areas: ethical breaches and selective applications of the law, fabricating law, usurping legislative powers, and predatory practices. McGraw scored a D- on the ethical breaches and selective applications of the law, but scored straight F grades on the remaining three categories.

“Darrell McGraw, attorney general of West Virginia since January 1993, has violated the most basic duty of his office, to defend the state in court,” wrote Bader. “In 1996, he brought a lawsuit against state agencies that was settled at a cost to taxpayers of more than $2 million, all of which was pocketed by the trial lawyer whom McGraw hired to bring the suit.”

“McGraw also has regularly diverted money recovered by the state from legal settlements to friends and allies, endangering West Virginia’s Medicaid funding in the process. This cronyism and his diversion of lawsuits settlements are key reasons why West Virginia has been rated as the nation’s worst “judicial hellhole” by the American Tort Reform Association.”

The report focuses on the lawsuit McGraw’s office brought against the West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs. McGraw is criticized for appointing an outside attorney to handle the suit, who was paid $2 million by the state to dismiss the suit.

“The state attorney general is supposed to defend state agencies from suit, not sue them for the benefit of his trial lawyer allies. The West Virginia Supreme Court noted that there has been ‘an order of this court directing the attorney general to explain why he has not represented West Virginia’ in that very case, but that he filed a non-responsive, evasive answer. It is interesting to note that the plaintiff’s counsel in this case donated to McGraw’s 1996 and 2004 campaigns. The contingency fees McGraw authorized were themselves probably illegal under West Virginia law.”

McGraw is also taken to task for reaping huge monetary awards, but choosing to not place those monies in the state treasury.

“McGraw has used other court settlements as his own political slush fund,” continued the report. “For example, in 2004, he took a $10-million settlement from Purdue Pharma, decided that he did not need to turn it over to the state treasury, and has been doling out the dollars himself ever since. Federal Medicaid officials were unhappy that the money did not go back into West Virginia’s Medicaid program, and threatened to withhold federal funds from the state.”

The attorneys general listed in the report are as follows:

  1. Jerry Brown, California
  2. Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma
  3. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
  4. Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island
  5. Darrell McGraw, West Virginia
  6. William Sorrell, Vermont

An email to the Attorney General’s office requesting comment was not returned.

Read the full report below:

Attorney General Darrell McGraw Named Fifth Worst State AG by Competitive Enterprise Institute

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Posted under Document, Ethics, Featured, Judical/Legal Reform, News, Regulations, Transparency.
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3 Comments For This Post So Far

  1. Walt Auvil
    9:12 pm on July 12th, 2010

    This is absurd. The State of West Virginia was able to run a balanced budget for a couple years almost solely due to $ Darrell recovered in lawsuits that he got grief for bringing from the very crew now “ranking” him as one of the “worst”. He may be one of the worst from the perspective of the right wing corporate interests that created and funded the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but not from the perspective of those in WV who benefit from his efforts.


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