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NAME: Sam Brown Petsonk

CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Attorney General

PARTY: Democrat



HOME COUNTY: Fayette County

AGE: 35

EDUCATION: Brandeis University, B.A.; Washington & Lee University School of Law, J.D.


OTHER WORK HISTORY: Legislative assistant to U.S. Senators Robert C. Byrd & Carte Goodwin; AmeriCorps*VISTA at Mullens Opportunity Center.

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Rotary; Rural Appalachian Improvement League.

ENDORSEMENTS: Parkersburg-Marietta Building & Construction Trades Council; United Mine Workers of America, Local 2059; Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford.

FAMILY: Wife, Stephanie Tyree; children, Teddy & Levi

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am running for Attorney General because we need a proven litigator who knows how to make government accountable and deliver results for our people. That’s who I am and what I’ve done in my law practice and throughout my life. West Virginia deserves an Attorney General who firmly enforces our laws to protect our people and defend our liberties. We deserve a leader who protects the hard-earned wages, benefits, homes, land, and basic rights of all West Virginians. An innovator for new business opportunities. An advocate to keep us all safe from fraud, corruption, and abusive practices.

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.


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.