CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey needs outside attorneys to help with two investigations of potential "price-fixing involving pharmaceuticals," health care law violations and other consumer protection-related problems.
Morrisey's office recently approved its own requests to hire outside attorneys for both cases and posted requests for proposals on its website.
"Our Office is committed to protecting consumers and citizens in any way we can, and in this particular instance, we believe the citizens of West Virginia would be better served by using outside counsel," Morrisey said in a statement emailed by a spokeswoman.
Morrisey describes himself as a "nationally prominent health care lawyer" on his personal website. He's also faced scrutiny this year for his personal connections to pharmaceutical companies being sued by the state.
Morrisey didn't address his expertise or the other pharmaceutical lawsuits in a statement explaining why his office needed outside counsel.
"For these matters, we have determined that the use of outside counsel is in the interest of the state because of the scope of the underlying matters, the burdens they would place on in-house staff and the complex nature of some of the issues involved," Morrisey said in the statement.
Morrisey, a Republican, worked as a private attorney before defeating then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw in the 2012 election. In his previous positions Morrisey "has worked on many high profile health care matters and possess a broad array of experience on regulatory issues, Medicare, Medicaid, policy..." and other areas, according to his website.
He's publicly announced stepping aside from three cases that have ties to some of his past work and his personal life.
Before Morrisey took office the state filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies Cardinal Health, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi. The second suit is against both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi. The third involved a lawsuit against Bank of America, which is represented by a law firm where Morrisey previously worked.
Cardinal Health contributed to Morrisey's inaugural campaign and Morrisey's wife has received more than $600,000 as a lobbyist for the company since 2012, as first reported in the Charleston Gazette.