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West Virginia delegates have approved a proposal with stricter conflict of interest requirements when the attorney general oversees cases.
The proposal would require the attorney general to step aside in cases against companies that paid him or his family in the last five years. The attorney general couldn’t take legal stances conflicting with state entities or officials.
The Democratic House passed the bill 52-44 Monday largely on party lines.
The proposal stems from Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s ties to two pharmaceutical companies his office was suing. The case dealt with claims arising from prescription pill profits the companies made in West Virginia. Morrisey recused himself. Two other state agencies are now overseeing the case.
Morrisey inherited the cases from the previous attorney general.
The proposal moves to the Senate.
Update: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 7:20 p.m.
The Attorney General’s office responded to the passage of the bill in the House with the following:
“The Office of the Attorney General is deeply disappointed that the West Virginia House of Delegates today passed unconstitutional and highly partisan legislation. This bill targets one person in state government while not imposing similar standards on legislators or other Constitutional offices. House Bill 4490, as it currently stands, will cost the state many millions of dollars, jeopardize existing investigations and lawsuits, and compromises the Attorney General’s ability to fight for the Second Amendment and jobs in West Virginia. If this bill passes, it will plunge the state into a constitutional crisis.”