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Attorney General-Elect Morrisey announces staff hirings

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West Virginia's Attorney General-elect Patrick Morrisey announced changes in the attorney general's office along with new hirings of personnel, both of which he says is critical to his 100 Day Plan.

Morrisey, the state's first Republican attorney general in 80 years, beat incumbent Democrat Darrell McGraw in the Nov. 6 election. McGraw had served in that position for 20 years and was seeking his sixth four-year term.

Morrisey takes office Jan. 14.

During a Jan. 9 news conference, Morrisey said he would create a "leadership structure" which consists of a principal attorney general, a solicitor general and a chief counsel.

"The goal is really to ensure that the agenda I campaigned on becomes a reality," Morrisey said. "During the campaign, we talked a lot about ethics reform and about the importance of challenging federal regulations. We brought on people who are top flight litigators and top flight ethics advocates."

Morrisey also hired a public integrity officer, who will oversee the office's ethics reform and also will collaborate with county prosecutors on public integrity prosecutions.

"This is the first time ever that the office of attorney general has such a position," Morrisey said of the public integrity officer. "That person will be charged with carrying out ethics reform efforts within our office and to propose other ethics changes."

Morrisey selected Dan Greear, a Charleston partner in Kesner, Kesner & Bramble, as general counsel. Greear, who has served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, ran for attorney general against McGraw in 2008 but lost by 5,312 votes.

He also selected Elbert Lin, a partner at Wiley Rein, as solicitor general. A solicitor general is traditionally the chief appellate lawyer for the state or federal government. McGraw's office did not have a person designated as a solicitor general.

According to information from Morrisey's office, Lin previously clerked for both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William H. Pryor. Lin is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he served as the managing editor of the Yale Law Journal, and has previous experience as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Other hires include Marty Wright, deputy general counsel of the West Virginia Ethics Commission, as deputy attorney general integrity officer; Richie Heath, executive director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, as deputy attorney general focusing on regulatory and policy matters to the state's business climate; and Tracy Webb, legal counsel to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, as deputy attorney general focusing on agency billable matters.

Morrisey also announced the following people will serve as assistant attorneys general: Chris Dodrill, an associate at Thomas Combs, & Spann; Jennifer Greenlief, an associate at Spilman, Thomas & Battle; and Shane Wilson, a 2012 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law.

Vicki Pendell, executive assistant to the University of Charleston president, will serve as Morrisey's administrative assistant.

"We have a top flight team, so I feel we are well on our way to get the best and the brightest law firm in the state of West Virginia," he said.

But Morrisey isn't done yet. He said more announcements will follow in the next few weeks.

"This is just the beginning," he said. "We're going to have a lot of announcements with additionally personnel. We will be releasing some new policies of how we will handle some of the office's ethics issues in the next few weeks. … We also will release how we will handle some of the trinkets. I think people are going to like that."