CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attorney General Darrell McGraw's campaign is raising eyebrows for the official-looking campaign material it sent to a large number of would-be West Virginia voters.
Both the letter and the envelope make clear the mail piece is paid for by the campaign, but at first blush, some people seem to have mistaken the campaign mail for official mail.
That's because the letter and the envelope feature an official-looking state seal, although it's not actually the official state seal.
The letter drew criticism from Democrat McGraw's detractors, including the industry-backed group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and McGraw's Republican challenger, Patrick Morrisey.
"Anyone who takes the eight seconds to read any of the letter would know it came from the campaign," McGraw campaign spokeswoman Denise Tucker said.
The letter is titled "From the Desk of Attorney General Darrell McGraw."
"The 2008 election was the most expensive Attorney General's race in the country," it begins. "My opponent was supported by bogus non-profit groups, financed by out of state big business with the goal of destroying consumer protection laws in West Virginia. My current opponent has the same strong ties with all the big money outsiders that my office is required by law to regulate."
Morrisey's campaign said because of the ad McGraw is "sadly ... guilty of the exact type of behavior he has sworn an oath to prosecute: deceptive advertising."
"The deliberate deception Darrell McGraw uses to get people to open this official looking letter, that appears to come from the Office of Attorney General on first glance, is almost as offensive as the lies told within," campaign manager Scott Will said in an email.
Asked what lies were in the letter, Will did not respond.
The McGraw campaign sent the letter to a "large demographic," Tucker said.
"It's a very well-thought-out letter and obviously we've done our jobs from the campaign standpoint because it seems to have upset our opponents -- we all know CALA is against us," Tucker said by phone Monday, referring to Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.
The head of the lawsuit abuse group, Richie Heath, has long criticized McGraw's office for using government-funded ads to advance McGraw's political interests. McGraw's camp always replies that the office's ads are necessary to let West Virginians know about the services offered by the Attorney General's Office.
"I really find it funny that his office makes its official state advertising and promotional materials look as much like campaign materials as possible, and his campaign makes its materials look as much like official state materials as possible," Heath said in an email. "Very nice touch."