New role as WV attorney general marries Morrisey's passions - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

New role as WV attorney general marries Morrisey's passions

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Patrick Morrisey says he always wanted to go into law.

But talk to the new West Virginia Attorney General long enough and you may hear of his other experiences and interests, including the place he calls home in the Eastern Panhandle, his struggles as a new attorney and his love for exploring history both though research and visiting historical sites.

Morrisey was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey. He says he found his calling in law and public policy at an early age.

"I really, always wanted to get a good education in law and be familiar with the Constitution, the governing document influencing all of our lives," Morrisey said. "In the 1980s when I was in college, I thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up."

Morrisey thought about journalism or other media careers because he enjoyed writing. In fact, he says when he first moved to West Virginia, he ended up writing for a local paper.

"I wrote for a local community paper in Jefferson County, which was a contrast to the drier legal memos I was working on," Morrisey admitted.

But Morrisey really wanted to  practice law.

"I always loved the law and the concept of the rule of law because of the ability to effectuate positive change and be impartial in terms of how laws are implemented," he said. "It was just a love of trying to ensure that basic principle of fairness but also that adherence to the Constitution."

Morrisey graduated from Rutgers Law School-Newark in January of 1992 and started his solo practice.

He said he took anything that came through his practice's doors, trying to do anything imaginable to keep his dreams afloat.

"I originally turned down an opportunity to work at a larger firm because I thought that I could maximize my opportunities as a sole practitioner," he said. 

Yet, times were hard, and Morrisey said he had to pick up part-time jobs to keep money flowing.

"I waited tables to make ends meet," he said. "I made sure to fight and survive."

"A couple of times, I felt like I was going under," he added.

He then received an opportunity with a law firm in Washington, D.C., where he would work in health care, telecommunications and elections law.

This opportunity, he said, prepared him for another opportunity to take what he called one of the best jobs of his life.

From 1999-2004, Morrisey served as deputy staff director and chief health care counsel to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. Here, he worked on a variety of health care issues and ended up drafting legislation including the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and the Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Act of 2002.  

"It was an incredible job by being in the room and accomplishing a tremendous amount for the country," he said.

While working at another large law firm, Morrisey worked on the challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

"It was a labor of love. I tried to bring some of the health care experience I had and marry it with const experts also involved in that case," he said.

Morrisey said he later moved to West Virginia, where he made the commute from Harpers Ferry to Washington, D.C.

So what drew him to West Virginia?

Morrisey said he loved hiking on the Appalachian Trail and had spent a "good deal of time" in Charles Town.

The state's history also caught his eye. Morrisey talked about the state's transformation through the Civil War, rattling off dates of notable events and his favorite battlefield sites.  

"I used to do a lot of reading of history in the state, U.S. and the world. West Virginia just had a unique history about how it gained entrance in the U.S. That was always very intriguing," he said.

And as years went by, Morrisey said he wanted to get more involved the West Virginia community.

"I spent a great deal of time helping the town build one of its historical streets," he said.

That also meant getting more involved in West Virginia politics. By late 2011, Morrisey said he was trying to recruit people to run for attorney general.

Why?

He said it was important to make a change in that office.

"I didn't have an interest in that office," he said. "And then someone said, ‘Well what about you?' I originally wasn't planning to run, but I started looking at the race. I knew the background of the attorney general and I knew I could do a good job making a fundamental change in this state with how West Virginia's business climate will evolve."

Resigning his partnership, Morrisey took the plunge, running against longtime incumbent Darrell McGraw.

"I had a large practice, and I gave it all up," he said. "I believe that the principles of freedom and ethics and protecting West Virginia from federal overage hat was worth giving up a large practice."

And now, Morrisey said he has much he wants to accomplish with his 100-day plan

Among those plans, Morrisey said he wants to sit down with members of different agencies, including the Legislature and governor, to come up with a consolidated approach to challenging federal regulations.

Morrisey also said his office is in the process of going through its budget. As an example, he said the office needs a new IT system, docket management system and budget management.  

"I am excited about the prospects of serving the people of West Virginia," he said. "I want to ensure that West Virginia reaches its potential as a state in terms of taking advantage of all its natural resources and using that in order to ensure that job growth in this state is advanced."