CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A lawsuit seeks to force Republican U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia to release public records related to his communications with the pharmaceutical industry.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed suit Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against Morrisey, who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin on Nov. 6.
Morrisey represented Cardinal Health and lobbied for wholesalers in Washington, D.C., before winning the state attorney general’s race in 2012. He was re-elected in 2016.
The lawsuit says Morrisey has failed to provide records sought a year ago in a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence starting in 2013 with drug companies such as Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen, the trade group Healthcare Distribution Alliance and others.
Morrisey’s predecessor sued more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies accusing them of fueling the state’s opioid crisis. West Virginia leads the nation by far in the rate of drug overdose deaths. Morrisey’s wife, Denise Morrisey, stopped doing work as a lobbyist for Cardinal Health in May 2016.
“If Morrisey has nothing to hide, voters across West Virginia are right to wonder why he fought to keep these records hidden for nearly a year,” DSCC spokesman David Bergstein said in an email. “What’s the former opioid lobbyist hiding?”
Morrisey spokesman Curtis Johnson said Morrisey’s office is a strong FOIA advocate, has already responded to the Democratic committee with significant information and continues to sort through tens of thousands of documents in an effort to comply with the request.
Johnson said the group’s request “amounts to nothing more than an effort to secure a political hit.”
Earlier this year the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration approved a rule change requiring drugmakers to identify a legitimate need for opioids to justify their production in an attempt to rein in their diversion for illicit purposes. Morrisey sought to limit how many opioid pills can be manufactured each year.