When recently confronted with an email and other documents that contradict West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s assertions that he never took part in his office’s lawsuit against drug wholesaler Cardinal Health, Morrisey issued a press release saying he recused himself from the case (Morrisey’s wife, Denise Henry, is a longtime lobbyist for Cardinal Health), even though retired WVU law professor Forest Bowman gave him the green light in 2013 to get involved in the lawsuit.
But on June 30 this year, Morrisey refused to disclose that he had ever contacted Bowman, in response to a May 21 Freedom of Information Act request that I submitted to his office.
Instead, Morrisey released an email from former chief deputy Dan Greear that revealed Bowman planned to introduce Morrisey at a Morgantown Chamber of Commerce dinner. (Bowman supported Morrisey in the 2012 election, donating $100 to his campaign at a fundraiser).
I also asked for communications from Greear to Bowman, but received a vague answer that “the documents we have discovered through our search that are arguably responsive concern private, non-public matters are therefore not subject to production.”
Earlier this year, in response to a FOIA lawsuit, Morrisey disclosed he had written a “draft letter” — a letter he never sent — on July 18, 2013, to a private attorney, articulating what information the lawyer would need to provide legal advice should Morrisey “become involved in the Cardinal Health lawsuit in the future.” Morrisey declined to name the private lawyer — presumably it was Bowman — release the letter and reveal what advice was given.
But on Oct. 24, in response to a Gazette-Mail story about Morrisey’s ties to Cardinal Health, he released a statement from Bowman that said the following:
“Beginning in April of 2013, I spoke with Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Dan Greear about the relevant facts in the Cardinal matter. They provided me with a description of the relevant background, including Attorney General Morrisey’s prior work in private practice, and his wife’s work at her government relations firm. Based upon my review, it has been and remains my belief that Attorney General Morrisey would be ethically permitted to participate in the Cardinal Health case, if he elected to do so. I initially conveyed that position to the Attorney General and his office in the spring and summer of 2013. Based upon the information provided to me, I do not believe that a legal conflict exists under West Virginia rules. Any decision to step aside was purely voluntary and went further than the rules require.”
To this day, Morrisey has declined to release any documents that would show what information he provided to Bowman.
I talked to Professor Bowman today. He said his political contribution to Morrisey did not “slant” the legal advice he gave to the attorney general in any way.
“That had nothing to do with my advice,” said Bowman, who contributes to numerous GOP candidates.
Bowman also recalled that he gave his ethics advice to Morrisey in writing.
If that’s the case, why is Morrisey refusing to release it?