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Editorial: Attorney general sets bar higher on ethics

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 10:41 PM

The "power of incumbency" is a bedrock reality in politics.

Once someone is elected to public office, they enjoy certain advantages when it comes to re-election. News coverage of their activities and public events give them name recognition. Assisting with funding or changes in law can help them build a base of support with voters and special interests.

Many officeholders also find clever ways to blend the activities of their office with self promotion. Some of this is rather subtle, and some is not.

West Virginia's new Attorney General Patrick Morrisey made this a campaign issue last fall, and it appears he is going to do what he said he would do. At a press conference last week, Morrisey pledged to:

Stop producing taxpayer-funded promotional trinkets such as key chains and magnets with his name on them.

Stop running ads about the activities of the attorney general's office with his name or picture on them.

Limit himself to two terms and propose a constitutional amendment to limit future attorneys general to two terms.

Although some residents may be unsure about the value of term limits, we think most agree that elected officials should not spend public tax dollars to blatantly promote themselves.

At this point, Morrisey's promise only applies to himself and the attorney general's office. But he is clearly setting the bar higher for other officeholders in West Virginia, and that is long overdue.



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