WV AG releases end-of-year review

Office addresses major challenges facing West Virginians

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ended 2015 with announcements of a record-breaking, Internet settlement, new partnerships to combat substance abuse and disability fraud, major victories against the Environmental Protection Agency and the formation of a 27-state bipartisan coalition to fight President Obama’s Power Plan.

The estimated $160-million agreement with Frontier Communications ranked as the largest, independently negotiated consumer protection settlement in West Virginia history, a resolution brought about as the office defended the state’s coal industry, coal miners and their families, and countless jobs that depend upon coal.

“This year our office advanced many positive changes for West Virginians,” Morrisey said. “Our office secured millions of dollars in settlements for consumers, brought to a halt the EPA’s illegal and onerous Waters of the United States rule, organized coalitions to protect coal mining and engaged in various outreach efforts to combat substance abuse and scams among many other activities.”

The Frontier settlement reduced Internet bills for affected consumers and secured $150 million in infrastructure upgrades to improve connectivity across West Virginia. It followed a settlement with drug manufacturer Amgen, in addition to settlements of $13 million with non-bank lender CashCall, $5.75 million with Nationwide Insurance and $2.4 million with debt collector CashPoint.

Morrisey’s office scored an important victory against the EPA in October with a stay blocking implementation of its Waters of the United States rule, which unlawfully expanded the federal government’s regulatory reach over small streams, land and farms.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office also joined many of those states in successfully arguing against EPA’s mercury rule before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Morrisey is helping lead an ongoing effort to block the Obama administration’s Power Plan and its illegal limits upon existing and new, coal-fired power plants.

Morrisey finished 2015 announcing partnerships with U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld to prosecute drug trafficking in northern West Virginia, while a collaboration with Social Security and its inspector general embarked upon a first-of-its-kind effort to root out disability fraud statewide.

Other accomplishments included the following:

  • An investigative report concerning the Elk River chemical spill.
  • First state in the nation to file suit against Volkswagen alleging consumer protection violations related to the making and sell of its Turbo-charged Direct Injection engine.
  • Success before the Supreme Court to protect a church’s right to advertise its services.
  • Expansion of concealed-carry reciprocity to Indiana and Nevada, while protecting continued reciprocity with neighboring Virginia.
  • Joined other states in urging Congress to protect the tax-exempt status of religious non-profits after arguments it could be revoked for those opposing same-sex marriage.
  • Participated in coalition that blocked, for the time being, President Obama’s immigration plan.

For specifics regarding the listed accomplishments, visit http://1.usa.gov/1UfoYpm.

Office addresses major challenges facing West Virginians

Staff Report