Patrick Morrisey said he was poised to launch his ethical reforms campaign when he walked into his office on Jan. 14 as the new state Attorney General.
That was the plan, he said, until he saw boxes stacked upon boxes, representing the unfinished cases the office was handling prior to his succeeding Darrell McGraw.
"It took us 18 days to make sure we got our arms around everything," said Morrisey, the state's first Republican to hold the office since 1928.
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told the gathering at Saturday’s Lincoln Day dinner in Buckhannon that he wants to make the office something of which the state’s taxpayers can be proud.
He said the office was "woefully inadequate," noting there has been problems with the telephone system, email and voicemail delivery, confusing financial records and outdated technology.
"I wish I could make this stuff up," he said, then added he believes he has the issues under control.
"We're going to make the trains run on time and make the people of West Virginia very proud."
Speaking at Saturday's Upshur County Lincoln Day dinner, Morrisey pledged to be a "vigorous defender" of West Virginia issues and its taxpayer money. He said one of the first things he has done since taking office was the elimination of the "trinket distribution brigade."
"This office is not about self-promotion," he said. "It's about serving the people of West Virginia."
Morrisey said he plans to take on the federal Environmental Protection Agency when he believes it has overstepped its authority. He also plans to take on Congress if he believes it crosses a line regarding gun owners' rights.
"If the EPA takes actions that are illegal, this Attorney General will stand up," he said. "If Congress steps up and passes Second Amendment restrictions, West Virginia will use its full weight and power to block that from going into effect."
He said he will lead by example, and he hopes other state officials and agencies will follow. Morrisey said he will never use a state vehicle for something he could not do as a non-officeholding candidate.
"I don't think the taxpayers should be funding my participation in a parade," he said. "I am going to make sure our office does things the right way."