CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey faced tough questions from a Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.
Morrisey appeared before the committee to present his budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.
Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, challenged the new lawyer-in-chief on his campaign pledge to defend the state against what Morrisey considers overreach from federal entities like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"Do you have the authority to do that?" Wells asked.
Morrisey said he has reviewed case law and believes state attorneys general have authority to challenge the federal government.
Wells also addressed Morrisey's much-publicized campaign against so-called trinkets. Morrisey repeatedly criticized former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, a Democrat, for spending taxpayer money on trinkets like pillboxes and gun locks bearing McGraw's name. He considered such purchases as "de facto campaign literature."
Morrisey said it was frivolous to spend taxpayer money on promotional materials emblazoned with an officeholder's name. He said from now on his name would be used on promotional materials only if they were "incidental in nature."
Wells accused Morrisey of grandstanding and suggested he remove his name from the Attorney General's Office doors if he is so adamant about avoiding self-promotion.
Wells held there is nothing wrong with putting officeholders' names on promotional materials because that helps citizens connect with elected officials.
"They need to know who the attorney general is," he said.
Each state agency appears before the Senate and House of Delegates finance committees to present proposed budgets for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Morrisey presented a $5.5 million budget, around $440,000 less than the office's budget for the current year.
The budget also is about $18,000 smaller than Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed budget for Morrisey's office.