Requested records not missing, McGraw's office says
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Six months of records thought to be missing from West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office have been reprinted and are ready to be viewed, office Comptroller Joe Clay said Tuesday.
Dan Greear, the Republican candidate challenging McGraw next month, had asked the state Legislature to investigate why Clay could not find six months of records relating to payments made out of McGraw's Consumer Protection Fund. The information was a part of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the State Journal.
"There wasn't anything lost," Clay said. "There were six reports that had to be reprinted. Everything they requested was ready last Tuesday, and evidently there was some confusion where they expected us to call them and we expected them to call us."
Walt Williams, the author of the State Journal report, said the records were not ready by his deadline but has been told they are now. He has not yet picked them up.
In Williams' "The $10 Million Question," Clay is asked why he was having such difficulty complying with the request. Clay replied, "There's just not a print out of who it was paid to. I'm having to go through books and books of information to get what you're asking for, and it takes time to pull out, copy and put back."
"There's six months that for whatever reason somebody's misplaced."
Clay said it was as simple as printing out data stored electronically to replace the missing hard copies.
"I want to ease people's minds that think there's a bunch of stuff missing," Clay said. "Everything they've requested is waiting on them."
Greear, a Charleston attorney, called what Clay said in the article "a shocking admission of ineptitude" and asked the Legislature to begin an investigation and seize the money in the Consumer Protection Fund.
"The Legislature must find out if criminal activity has taken place or if there is simply shoddy management of the taxpayer money used as McGraw's slush fund," Greear said. "This is a shameful display of arrogance and incompetence."
Most of the criticism of McGraw's Consumer Protection Fund comes from his 2004 settlement with prescription painkiller OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma.
The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has decided to withhold millions of dollars from its next Medicaid payment to the State, though the State is appealing. The issue began in 2004, when McGraw's office, representing the state Department of Health and Human Resources and two other state agencies, settled a lawsuit with Purdue Pharma over the allegedly misrepresented addiction capabilities of OxyContin.
McGraw's office argued in the complaint that the drug created addicts who put a strain on the state's Medicaid budget. The two sides settled for $10 million, though McGraw structured the settlement in a way that allowed him to keep the settlement funds for the purpose of appropriating them himself.
The CMS provides roughly 75 cents of every dollar the State spends on Medicaid and wants what it feels is its share. McGraw's office has continued to give the settlement proceeds to various substance abuse programs around the state, as well $500,000 for a pharmacy school at the University of Charleston.
A full accounting provided by McGraw's office of money spent from the OxyContin lawsuit obtained by Legal Newsline in April can be viewed here. Much of it has been given to day report centers, check-in points for those convicted of non-violent crimes, while the Legislature has complained that appropriating the funds should have been in its job.
"Everyone agrees with that, because for every dollar spent on the day report centers, it saves the counties $7 each on regional jail costs," Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes has said. "We were looking at it in terms of maximizing money for the state."
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.