The marketing contract, estimated to be worth $3.5 million, was awarded to Ohio-based Fahlgren Mortine for one year's work. To pick Fahlgren, DHHR passed over three lower bidders.
When it came to the marketing contract, the Perry and Taylor said they were so concerned about the decision to award the contract, they warned other DHHR officials they could not go to court to defend the contract if it was awarded to Fahlgren and challenged by one of the other bidders.
DHHR also argues Perry and Taylor never accused anyone of "waste or wrongdoing" - even though the two questioned why the contract was going to the highest bidder.
"They were just questioning the (contract evaluation) committee's judgment not its integrity," DHHR said in its response.
DHHR's defense has two tracks: Besides trying to get the whistleblower lawsuits thrown out, the agency's inspector general has given a report to Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants.
The report mirrors an earlier search warrant that accused Law, Perry and Taylor of attempting to illegally interfere with the awarding of the contract. Plants is still deciding whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges.
DHHR's response to the whistleblower lawsuits portrays Law as a person with a conflict of interest because of his "close personal relationship" with employees at The Arnold Agency, the Charleston-based marketing firm that held the contract and submitted the lowest bid before the contract was awarded to Fahlgren.
Law made efforts to distance himself from the bidding process because he frequently worked with Arnold. But he later questioned the outcome.
A review of state purchasing documents by the Daily Mail showed a number of judgment calls by an evaluation team gave the Fahlgren a razor-thin victory over The Arnold Agency.