WHEELING - A Republican political staffer following state Attorney General Darrell McGraw with a video camera alleges McGraw "lunged" at him and ripped his camera away during the Pumpkin Festival Parade in Milton on Saturday.
Justin Lafferty, 24, a staffer for McGraw's Republican challenger, Patrick Morrisey, sent the Democrat McGraw, 73, a letter Monday asking for an apology. Lafferty had filed no report with police as of late Monday afternoon. Denise Tucker, a spokesman for McGraw's campaign, said the campaign had no comment regarding the incident.
"What happened this weekend really upset me," Lafferty said in a statement released by Morrisey. "No one should have to worry about being attacked by another person, and particularly by a man who has been in public office since the mid-1970s.
"On Saturday, at the Pumpkin Festival, Attorney General Darrell McGraw lunged at me, ripped the camera away, and tore the strap that was attached to my hand. In so doing, he turned the power off on the camera. An adult in his position should be able to admit that what he did was wrong. That is why I am asking Darrell McGraw for an apology. That is my only request right now. I will await his response before saying or doing anything further."
In the video, labeled "AG McGraw Attacks Morrisey Staffer," McGraw is seen meeting with voters, one of which asks that she be able to ask him a question "away from camera." He next confronts Lafferty, and asks him where he is from. Lafferty responds, "Logan County," and McGraw asks him if they are related.
"The Laffertys in Logan and Wyoming (counties) are my kin," McGraw says.
He then asks Lafferty, "What got you into the filming business? I have a lot of children in the filming business."
Lafferty responds , "It's my job."
"Are you a stalker?" McGraw next asks.
A woman standing with McGraw begins to protest the camera's presence, adding, "We don't do that here. No matter what the candidate or the party, we don't do that here."
McGraw's arm appears to come up to the camera, and the video stops.
During a 2004 United Mine Workers of America's Labor Day rally in Racine, W.Va., that McGraw's brother, Warren McGraw - then a state Supreme Court justice - gave the speech that came to be known as the "Racine Rant." During the speech, Warren McGraw also called out "a stalker" from the Republican, whom he said was "trying to make me look ugly."
In his letter to McGraw Monday, Lafferty said he was "definitely unnerved and rattled by this incident" that occurred in Milton.
"I would like to put this matter behind us, but I do feel strongly that you should apologize for your behavior in Milton," Lafferty writes. "That is all I am asking for. I will make a final decision about how to proceed after I hear back from you."
In the letter, he provides McGraw with a phone number where he can be reached, and notes he would be happy to set up a convenient time to speak "if you are interested."
"It's been an interesting weekend," said Scott Will, spokesman for the McGraw campaign.