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NAME: Sam Brown Petsonk
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Attorney General
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: http://www.samforwv.com
HOME CITY: Edmond
HOME COUNTY: Fayette County
BIOGRAPHY: I am a ninth-generation West Virginian. I have served as legislative assistant to Senator Robert C. Byrd, and as a Beckley-based lawyer in nonprofit legal services. I have dedicated my career to ensuring better wages, working conditions, and retirement benefits for coal miners and all workers. My wife and I reside with our two young sons in Fayette County. Website: SamforWV.com
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. What do you think would be the best use of the money awarded to West Virginia from the settlement with the opioid manufacturers?
First, we must spend to implement the State’s evidence-based "West Virginia 2020-2022 Substance Use Response Plan," with methods endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. Second, the Attorney General needs additional funding for the Civil Rights Division to ensure adequate support for people in long-term recovery.
2. What experience, training or education do you have that makes you the best qualified candidate for Attorney General?
My legal and legislative experience includes all key aspects of the Attorney General's duties. I’ve been a People’s Lawyer, securing millions by smartly using our laws to protect our citizens. I’ve learned the intricacies of administrative law by conducting detailed oversight of government agencies for Senator Byrd and litigating under FOIA, the Open Meetings Act, and our Constitution.
Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:
3. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced in 2015 a settlement with Frontier Communications in which the company said it would spend $150 million over three years to improve internet service to 28,000 customers. Do you believe that agreement has been fulfilled?
I get broadband from Frontier at my home, and so I’m like a lot of people who can say that Morrisey has absolutely failed. We need an aggressive approach to improve service for Frontier’s customers. The Attorney General must also do more of what I’ve done as a lawyer by working with state and local agencies to foster broadband co-ops.
4. What is your political philosophy, and how would it guide you in performance of your duties?
The job of a democracy is to give a voice to the people in the making of laws. The Attorney General's job is to enforce and advise on protecting the public interest under our laws and Constitution. If our Attorney General minded the store instead of hauling off on costly and ineffective political crusades, we’d be in much better shape.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
5. As Attorney General, what areas of consumer protection would you emphasize and promote?
I will emphasize increasing the number of settlements of consumer cases, which have plummeted under the current AG. I will promote consumer protection against medical debt and student loan debt, and enforce antitrust laws to ensure fair competition for businesses. I will investigate wage theft, and worker misclassification, to fight fraud in the workplace, and help us to thrive.
6. What would be your priorities for the Attorney General’s office to accomplish in the next four years?
We must protect healthcare coverage for West Virginians. As AG, I will remove our state from the dangerous lawsuit that threatens people with pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, COPD, diabetes, etc. I will fight corruption, combat the overdose crisis by supporting long-term recovery, and enforce laws to protect workers, seniors, small businesses and consumers from fraud.
7. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective Attorney General?
I've secured millions in complex class actions for hundreds of citizens. I conducted detailed oversight of public agencies for Senator Byrd, and litigated extensively before administrative agencies---key functions for the Attorney General. I've handled many matters of public concern: civil rights, school funding, Freedom of Information, Open Meetings, and served as president of the West Virginia Employment Lawyers Association.