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WV AG Eliminates Consumer Protection Job, Uses the $100,000 to Hire Re-Election Operative

Longest. Mic stand. EVER.

Longest. Mic stand. EVER.

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West Virginia Democrats are crying foul after Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey created a new position in his office and filled it with a long-time political operative.  Lance James Henderson is not an attorney and has no legal experience, yet will earn nearly $100,000 a year as Morrisey’s Deputy Chief of Staff. All at the expense of the state’s taxpayers. 

The money for Henderson’s new position came from an investigator position eliminated the AG eliminated from the Consumer Protection Recovery Fund, which finances consumer protection activities.   Henderson has a long history of working with the GOP, most recently on the 2014 re-election campaign of Maine Governor Paul LePage.  

Speaking to the West Virginia Record, Democratic Party Vice Chairman Christopher Regan blasted Morrisey’s legally questionable decision:

The rule is pretty simple.  Your campaign activities need to be paid with campaign funds. You can’t use public employees to do campaign work.  This guy is qualified to do nothing else. To hire a career campaign consultant is a mockery. He’s not qualified to do anything else. This is what he’s done his entire life.”

Regan questioned what the position would actually require, adding: “It’s a no-show job. It’s a clear violation. It’s so brazen … I just don’t know what to say about it.”

Morrisey is running for re-election in 2016 rather than for governor, a position he was considered a serious candidate for.  Since 1989, the state has had a Republican Governor only once.

Morrisey’s Democratic opponents for the AG position have come out in fierce opposition to Henderson’s hiring, which they view as purely political.  Speaking to the Gazette-Mail Charleston lawyer Dave Higgins, who is running for AG as a democrat, criticized the hire:

“Not only do I consider that inappropriate,” opponent Dave Higgins told the Gazette-Mail, “if I were attorney general, it would never even cross my mind to do something like that.”

Higgins later added, while speaking to the West Virginia Record:

“The Henderson hire is wrong on so many levels.  Public funds should not be used for purely political purposes. The salary is too high for a non-lawyer, and the hiring a non-West Virginian is upsetting.  The average West Virginian should be shaking his or her head over this.”

For the past 20 years Henderson has run a political consulting firm called Henderson Strategic Communications.  According to an online ad for the company, it specializes in “using the power and influence of savvy marketing communications to revamp an image, enhance the impact of a brand, build awareness, turnaround a perception and boost competitive positioning.”  

Between 1992 and 1995 Henderson served as the executive director of the Washington state Republican Party.  Despite his successes in electing six new GOP members to Congress, re-electing a GOP senator, and helping the party take control of the state’s lower house for the first time in 14 years, he was eventually fired partially due to what fellow Republicans called his “arrogance and his brusque attitude.”  He then worked for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign and for the party on a national level, creating a 50-state voter database.  


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