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NOTE: This short video was first posted Oct. 29, 2020, as part of The Justice Project of WestVirginiaVille.com, a video series highlighting key issues in the 2020 elections in West Virginia. WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won re-election over labor attorney Sam Petsonk. We include both this video, which highlights Morrisey’s questionable ties and backing by Big Pharma, and a separate video (below) on Petsonk’s reasons for opposing Morrisey. As the deadly opioid crisis continues to unfold—and as Morrisey champions efforts to overturn Obamacare—his tenure as attorney general must remain in clear and present focus. ~ Douglas John Imbrogno
I recently began reading my former Charleston Gazette-Mail colleague Eric Eyre’s best-selling book, “DEATH IN MUD LICK: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic.” Morrisey played a key role in the genesis of the reporting that earned Eric a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. The video features an illustrated excerpt from the book’s Preface, which cites Morrisey’s entanglement with one of the big pharmaceutical companies at the heart of the opioid crisis, and the devastation it continues to spawn in families and communities across West Virginia and the country.
EXCERPT from “DEATH IN MUD LICK”
(as seen in video)
“AS A STATEHOUSE REPORTER with the Charleston Gazette-Mail, I stumbled into [a] legal battle in 2013, uncovering secrets and lies that set up a collision course with three of America’s largest corporations.
“That summer, I received a tip that Cardinal Health had helped pay for the inaugural party of West Virginia’s newly elected attorney general, Patrick Morrisey. Cardinal’s lawyer had headed Morrisey’s campaign transition team, and Morrisey’s wife had lobbied for Cardinal in Washington DC, pocketing millions of dollars for her K Street firm.
“The previous attorney general—a twenty-year incumbent—had sued Cardinal on behalf of the citizens of West Virginia. Now, Morrisey, after Cardinal’s top executives helped bankroll his campaign, was overseeing the suit; lawyers close to the case contended he was trying to sabotage it.
“Morrisey insisted he had stepped aside from the lawsuit, but I unearthed letters showing he had met privately with Cardinal lawyers about it, and court documents and emails revealed he was giving staff “specific instructions” on how to handle the suit.
“In retaliation, Morrisey set out to derail my investigation with one of his own—against my employer, a tenacious small newspaper in financial peril. His benefactors were counting on him to shut the door.
“But after the paper successfully fought to to unseal court documents that the drug distributors wanted to hide from the public, the attorney general handed over previously confidential records that showed the companies’ insidious pursuit of profits.
“Along the way, I wrote hundreds of stories about the devastation and misery that opioids had inflicted upon our state.”
~ Eric Eyre
“The West Virginia Hills” and the Race for WV Attorney General’
This oct26.2020 video below by The Justice Project of WestVirginiaVille.com featured a pre-election visit with Sam Petsonk, a labor attorney who challenged WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the 2020 election. It features excerpt from a live version of “The West Virginia Hills” with Petsonk on banjo and vocals and beloved West Virginia performer Randy Gilkey on guitar and vocals.
TEXT from The Justice Project 2020 video: ‘The West Virginia Hills’
SAM PETSONK: “I’m Sam Brown Petsonk and I’m the Democratic candidate for attorney general of West Virginia. I have to say I am plumb honored and just humbled to be here together with Randy Gilkey, one of our greatest guitar pickers and showmen here in the state of West Virginia. We’re going to do a little bit of the old “West Virginia Hills.”
EXCERPT from “WEST VIRGINIA HILLS …”
PETSONK: “I’m a labor lawyer presenting coal miners. Hundreds of coal miners and black lung cases, retirees, healthcare cases—all around West Virginia. So, I deal with our health care providers in our rural health clinics, our black lung clinics.
“And a lot of those health care providers came to me and they said, ‘Sam, you know, we’re scared about what’ll happen if we lose our federal health care programs …’
“And you know, Morrisey, the current attorney general, has filed this lawsuit to eliminate health care for 200,000 West Virginians.”
EXCERPT OF SONG:
“O, the hills … beautiful hills!
“How I love those West Virginia hills…
“If ‘oer sea or land I roam, still I think of happy home,
And my friends among those West Virginia hills.”
PETSONK: “I worked for Senator Robert C. Byrd when we enacted that federal health care law. And I helped to write some of it. I helped to write the parts that have brought black lung benefits to thousands of coal miners across this country—$5 billion of black lung benefits have come to American coal miners through the very same health care law that Morissey is trying to take away.
CONCLUSION OF SONG:
... I till I think of happy home…
and my friends among those West Virginia hills.
And my friends among those West Virginia hills.”
EDITORIAL: “The Silent Senator Capito,” A Justice Project Video: Waiting on WV Senator Shelley Moore Capito to do the right thing—not just mouth the right thing—you might notice your hair turn another color and not from hair dye. So, WestVirginiaVille points its second Justice Project editorial video her way.
EDITORIAL | John Mandt Jr., Uncensored: In the debut of our multimedia editorial feature, The Justice Project, we take a musical walk-through of the chatroom comments that led WV delegate John Mandt Jr., to resign. He has since said he’d serve if elected on Nov. 3.