Among West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's first acts after taking office earlier this year was to dismantle his predecessor's "consumer protection" program. Morrisey said he wanted to reevaluate how the initiative could serve Mountain State residents best.
His opponents jumped on the move with both feet, insisting Morrisey was a tool of big business and had little interest in safeguarding Mountain State residents from predatory practices.
Then, just last month, a legislator wrote Morrisey a letter, asking him to consider what action the attorney general's office could take against drug abuse. Again, some of Morrisey's critics claimed the attorney general's former connections with big drug companies made it unlikely he would do anything substantive.
Wrong on both counts, it seems as a result of a new hire in the attorney general's office.
Morrisey has revealed he has employed Maryclaire Akers as an assistant attorney general with the Consumer Protection Division. That is significant because Akers formerly worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Kanawha County, then with the state Ethics Commission.
As an assistant prosecutor, she became all too well acquainted with the damage drug abuse is doing to many West Virginians and was involved in trying to crack down on drug trafficking. Kanawha County is the center of methamphetamine production in the state; the number of "meth labs" broken up there this year nearly totals all the rest of the state combined.
Akers is a well-respected public servant who can be expected to focus on safeguarding Mountain State residents. That will be in contrast to former Attorney General Darrell McGraw's operation, which at times seemed to center on ensuring voters remembered his name when they went to the polls.
Morrisey has been in office just a few months and much of his time has been occupied by cleaning up messes left behind by McGraw. But on both consumer protection and fighting drug abuse, the new attorney general has begun devising the most effective strategies his office can pursue. Employing Akers appears to have been a major step forward.