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Morrisey's appeal for funds disappoints

The state's attorney general-elect, Republican Patrick Morrisey, loaned his campaign at least $943,000 to mount an effective campaign against incumbent Darrell McGraw.

Now, as Daily Mail Capitol Reporter Ry Rivard has written, Morrisey is seeking contributions to recoup his investment in his campaign.

McGraw's habit of suing companies for millions of dollars in damages contributed to investors' reservations about West Virginia's legal climate.

McGraw was also accused of throwing cases to cronies, even contributors, who then typically kept a third of the awards they got from companies that wanted to limit their legal expenses in West Virginia.

And McGraw's use of the office to build his name recognition made him an especially difficult adversary. It takes money to create awareness of a new candidate when the incumbent is such a familiar figure.

But there are moral dangers in every direction, and Morrisey's decision to use his status as the next attorney general to invite "contributions" to retire his campaign debt is a disappointment.

Winning a powerful public office and then asking one's new constituents for contributions looks more like demanding tribute.

As Rivard pointed out, it's not uncommon for people to put their own money into their campaigns and then accept post-election contributions from delighted subjects.

Democratic Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman loaned her campaign $67,000 and booked about $52,000 in post-election support.

House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, lent his unsuccessful 2011 gubernatorial campaign $110,000 and ended the campaign with $69,000 in debt. He hasn't been attracting much in contributions to cut that debt.

Democratic Supreme Court candidate Tish Chafin, who lost, loaned her effort $1 million.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney, who lost in 2011 and 2012, loaned his campaigns several million dollars.

People who don't win don't typically get much post-election support - even when they should. After all, they stood up for an effort many others thought should be made.

But winners armed with the power of the office have to decide whether to accept tribute from the governed or just eat their losses.

Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis, who loaned at least $860,000 to her successful campaign for re-election, does not plan to hold post-election fundraisers.

Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum ended his successful bid $640,000 in hock to himself, received less than $4,000 in contributions afterward, and held no fundraisers.

It's a more respectable decision.

 


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