CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has recused himself from two lawsuits filed by his office against drug companies.
Morrisey’s wife, Denise Henry, lobbies for two of the companies, Sanofi and Cardinal Health. Morrisey is a former lobbyist for Sanofi, the Sunday Gazette-Mail reported. Both lawsuits were filed during former Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s last term. Morrisey defeated McGraw in the 2012 general election.
One lawsuit alleges that Cardinal Health’s negligent practices have helped fuel the state’s pain pill abuse epidemic. The other lawsuit alleges that Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb falsely marketed the blood-thinner Plavix.
“While not required to step aside, I have decided to not be personally involved in these two cases because I want to avoid any perception that these matters will not be pursued vigorously and on their own merits,” Morrisey told the newspaper.
Sanofi has paid $180,000 to Capitol Counsel, Henry’s lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., so far this year. Since 2010, the drug company has paid the firm more than $1 million, according to federal filings. Morrisey was a lobbyist for Sanofi from 2006 to 2008, according to federal lobbying disclosure forms.
The newspaper said that Morrisey recused himself from the lawsuit against Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb on Aug. 5, the same day that it submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to his office for information about the case.
“Our office seeks to break from the tired practices of the past and create an Office of the Attorney General that is beyond reproach,’’ Morrisey said in a prepared statement in response to the newspaper’s questions about the lawsuit last week. “That is why I decided to step aside from the case as of (Aug. 2) even though it is not required.”
Morrisey said that his office has kept the outside law firms hired by McGraw in 2012 to handle the lawsuits.
“While some people play politics with serious matters,” he said, “I’m confident that our office and all of the outside counsel firms who were hired by Darrell McGraw and continue in that capacity will zealously pursue all allegations of wrongdoing, reach a just result, and protect our state’s interests.”