For the second day in a row, this morning's Intelligencer gave front-page coverage to Patrick Morrisey, who is up for re-election to attorney general. On Thursday, AG Morrisey visited the area and yesterday's top-of-the-page headline proclaimed that he was working to curb drugs! (See next post down.) Today's front-page story tells us that Morrisey has approved his own "Best Practices for Dispensing Opioids in West Virginia" guidelines. (A gutsy decision on his part.)
The guidelines were developed by his office earlier in the year and they could have been approved at any time. Instead, it appears that Morrisey has prolonged their approval to ensure maximum public relations benefit from his inevitable acceptance. For example, mention of Morrisey's "best practices" has appeared in at least 10 articles in the West Virginia Record, which bills itself as "the state's first and only legal journal." You'll also find the guidelines mentioned in numerous newspaper articles that have covered his appearances around the state discussing drugs.
The article provides us with four separate quotes and a number of indirect quotes from Morrisey. But as with yesterday's article, how is this news? These are guidelines and not legal requirements. I googled Morrisey and the guidelines to see how many other news sources covered this "news event." My search yielded only the Intelligencer and Parkersburg News and Sentinel where the article's author is a reporter. By the way, guess who own the Parkersburg paper?
Update -- August 21
This morning's Charleston Gazette-Mail has a front page story about the Department of Health and Human Resources, the attorney general's office, and Cardinal Health that begins:
West Virginia's state health agency and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey have approved a $657,000-a-year contract with a drug company that both offices are suing for allegedly fueling the state's opioid epidemic.
The Department of Health and Human Resources selected Cardinal Health to manage the pharmacy at Welch Community Hospital in McDowell County, even though Cardinal initially wasn't the low bidder on the state contract.
Morrisey's office held up the contract for three months, but signed off on the deal in late May after being pressed by state Health Secretary Karen Bowling. In a letter, Morrisey's chief deputy told Bowling that the office's role was to ensure Cardinal Health's contract was in "proper form" - nothing more.
It's a complex story and worth reading if you're following the attorney general's dealings with the drug companies.