CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declined to directly address a robocall campaign by the Republican Attorneys General Association and its fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, that encouraged people to travel to Washington, D.C., last week for an event that ultimately turned deadly.
Morrisey condemned the violent attacks at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump on Twitter on Jan. 6 and again in an email to the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper Monday, but he declined to comment specifically about the organization’s efforts to recruit “patriots like you” to “march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” according to the call.
“As a member of the Republican Attorneys General Association, I am stunned and deeply disappointed by actions taken last week outside of the organizations’ operating structure,” Morrisey said in a statement Monday. “As I stated (last) Wednesday, I condemn in the strongest possible manner the violent attacks at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.”
Morrisey is not part of the association’s executive committee.
The Republican Attorneys General Association established the Rule of Law Defense Fund in 2014. On Jan. 5, the Fund sent out calls encouraging people to come to the U.S. Capitol the next day, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Five people died in the breach of the U.S. Capitol, which occurred as members of Congress were in the process of certifying the 2020 election. Among the victims was Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during a struggle and died of his injuries Jan. 7, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
On Monday, RAGA Executive Director Adam Piper resigned from his position after receiving criticism for the robocall campaign. In a statement Friday, he said the RAGA and the Rule of Law Defense Fund “had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring or the organization” of the Jan. 6 rally, according to The Washington Post.
Morrisey served on the Defense Fund’s Board of Directors in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to tax documents. The RAGA provided $6.8 million to his 2016 re-election campaign and ran ads supporting his 2020 re-election bid.
In 2017, Morrisey served as chairman of the RAGA Executive Committee after previously serving as a vice chairman for the committee.
Scott Will, who served as Morrisey’s campaign manager in 2012, was executive director of the RAGA from 2015 to 2019. He was also vice president of the Rule of Law Defense Fund from 2014 to 2019.
Morrisey did not respond to a question asked by the Gazette-Mail regarding his stance on, or knowledge of, RAGA’s robocalls or how active he is within the RAGA beyond confirming that he is a member of the association.
In 2019, Morrisey said his office had lobbied Congress to pass the TRACED Act, which he said would require phone companies to do more to block unwanted calls and would create a framework to hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable. Morrisey said the calls could be “infuriating, maddening and bothersome,” and warned they also could be used by nefarious actors looking to commit identity theft and other crimes.
“Very few issues today bring people of all political views together like robocalls,” Morrisey said in an Op-Ed published in the Gazette-Mail in October 2019.
Congress passed the TRACED Act in 2019, and Trump signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2019.
The RAGA includes 25 Republican attorneys general from throughout the country. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is the current chairman of the executive committee.