CHARLESTON, W. Va. - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw recently held a second meeting with his Citizens Advisory Committee, focusing talk on recent consumer protection litigation while thanking the committee for ideas for two freshly installed programs.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes on Aug. 23 said the committee is responsible for the Attorney General's office educating incoming freshman at West Virginia University on credit and the ability to "inform more communities about new scams and schemes that defraud."
"The Citizen Advisory Committee members are responsible for the success that this partnership has had in becoming people's direct line of communication to the Attorney General's office and we all owe them our thanks," McGraw said.
Jill Miles, of McGraw's consumer protection division, spoke about Security Freeze, the legislation that she says helps stop unwanted inquiries into a consumer's credit.
In April, state Sen. Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, had an editorial published in The West Virginia Record. He argued the creation of the Citizen Advisory Committee was purely politically motivated.
"Does anyone believe this 'Citizens' Advisory Panel' is anything more than a kickoff for the 2008 McGraw Re-election campaign?" wrote Sprouse, one of McGraw's harshest critics.
Sprouse thinks McGraw, who won re-election over Hiram Moore in 2004 in the closest Attorney General's race in state history, is using the CAC as a springboard for positive publicity.
Another Republican in the state's Senate, Andy McKenzie of Ohio County, thinks there is nothing unusual about the committee but hopes its intentions are clean.
"I know the Attorney General did this when he had a lot of heat coming on him," McKenzie said. "I don't think it's really that big of a deal.
"I guess the bigger question is the people he puts on it and what their mission is, if it's just to get re-elected and evaluate the political climate or if it's to actually get some input."
McGraw, meanwhile, says the committee has helped build better communication between his office and communities.
"We are pursuing opportunities to educate consumers enabling them to make smarter choices and reduce unnecessary litigation," he said. "The committee is helping the office of the Attorney General put a plan into action that ultimately links communities together shutting down scam operators before their powerful tentacles reach into the pockets of consumers."