WVCALA Urges Return of “Straw Man” Money

Press release received from West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

Charleston, W.Va. – Legal watchdog group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) calls on elected officials and candidates who have accepted political contributions from Michael Fuller, a Mississippi based personal injury lawyer, exposed in an investigation by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office for a series of alleged illegal straw donations, to return the campaign cash.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s investigation exposed a series of alleged illegal straw donations orchestrated by personal injury attorney Michael Fuller to political campaigns in West Virginia, including to Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Justice Robin Davis’ 2012 re-election campaign.

“The evidence makes it clear that millionaire personal injury lawyer Michael Fuller hoped to use his tremendous wealth to make even more money by gaining favor with many of West Virginia’s elected officials, including Justice Robin Davis. We’re calling on any elected officials and former candidates who have taken money from Michael Fuller or his associates to return the money,” said Roman Stauffer, Executive Director of WV CALA.

Secretary Warner referred the case to Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller, where he recommended the case be presented to a grand jury. In a letter to Miller, Secretary of State Mac Warner characterized numerous suspicious donations as “a scheme orchestrated by Michael Fuller Jr. and Steve Edwards.”  Mr. Edwards is the Florida resident who executed Fuller’s straw man scheme, according to one of the donors interviewed during Secretary Warner’s investigation.

The evidence provided to Prosecutor Milled included copies of the alleged fraudulent checks and a video confession from one of the straw donors who explained how Fuller planned and executed the illegal scheme. Despite being handed the evidence, Kanawha County Prosecutor Miller declined to pursue the case.

According to campaign finance filings and research perform by West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, the following political campaigns and organizations have accepted political cash from people with connections to Michael Fuller, his law firm, or those associated with him: Justice Robin Davis ($27,500), Governor Earl Ray Tomblin ($22,000), West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee ($20,000), Letitia Chafin for Supreme Court ($18,100), Justice Margaret Workman for Supreme Court ($2,000), Justice Menis Ketchum for Supreme Court ($1,000).

“We cannot continue to grow our economy and get people working again if job creators believe that predatory personal injury lawyers like Michael Fuller have free reign over our courts, legislature and governor’s mansion. Every West Virginian deserves a fair day in court, but unfortunately some personal injury lawyers are seeking special treatment in hopes of reaping a jackpot justice payout. West Virginia is not for sale, and we will continue to expose those driven by lawsuit greed,” Stauffer concluded.