Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

National GOP Group Aiding Morrisey ; Republican Attorneys General Association Has Spent $2.6M So Far on Re-Election

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

National GOP Group Aiding Morrisey ; Republican Attorneys General Association Has Spent $2.6M So Far on Re-Election

Article excerpt

Millions of dollars from the Republican Attorneys General Association are flooding into West Virginia to help Patrick Morrisey maintain his position as the state's attorney general. Campaign finance reports show that the corporate-funded association has spent $2.6 million since May to help get Morrisey re-elected as the state's top lawyer, with more than $1.5 million of that spending occurring over a two-week period at the beginning of this month.

The independent expenditures were made under the Mountaineers are Always Free PAC, which was started in May by the RAGA specifically to assist Morrisey in his campaign against Doug Reynolds, a business owner and Democratic state legislator.

The wave of money, which largely has been put toward negative advertisements against Reynolds, highlights the power of third- party groups that are willing to spend millions to get their preferred candidates elected.

RAGA also is spending big in North Carolina, where it has pledged $3.8 million to help that state's Republican candidate for attorney general.

In West Virginia, the outside spending has dwarfed the $386,000 raised by Reynolds as of June, and has allowed Morrisey to save most of the $702,000 that his campaign raised independently by that point, according to the most recent financial disclosure reports.

Scott Will, the executive director of RAGA, ran Morrisey's campaign in 2012.

Kayla Berube, Morrisey's campaign manager, did not directly answer questions about the money that was being spent by RAGA or why the group is willing to spend so much on Morrisey's campaign.

"It is not appropriate for us to speculate about another group's spending and strategic decisions, which we have absolutely no involvement in, due to campaign finance laws, she said.

Berube instead referred to the lawsuit that Morrisey is pushing against the federal Environmental Protection Agency and that agency's Clean Power Plan. She reiterated campaign attack ads that label Reynolds a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and criticize him for funding his campaign with "the family fortune he was born into.

"Attorney General Morrisey has received grassroots support from all over the state, she said.

Morrisey's individual fundraising efforts, as of June, equal less than a third of what RAGA has put up for the race.

Reynolds campaign manager Patrick Hensley said they are well aware of the money that is being spent on Morrisey's behalf, and they aren't surprised by the influx of cash for their opponent.

"This is something we expected from day one, Hensley said. "If you followed the race in 2012, they spent millions of dollars dragging a good name through the mud.

In 2012, the Center for Individual Freedom, another conservative group, spent $1.6 million to defeat Darrell McGraw, the incumbent attorney general being challenged by Morrisey. …

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