Coal Industry Throws Money to Oliverio over McKinley

By westvirginia on October 4, 2010
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In the last of our series taking a look at which candidates are receiving the most campaign donations from the coal mining industry, we turn our attention to the 1st Congressional District, which seems to have also gone quite as the U.S. Senate special election has taken the bulk of the press.

In this race you have Democratic State Sen. Michael Oliverio, who defeated the incumbent Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) in the May primary. Facing Oliverio is Republican David McKinley, a former member of the House of Delegates and former state Republican Party Chair.

As of June 30 McKinley had the lead in money, collecting nearly $967,000 for his campaign. Nearly $351,000 came from individual donations, $43,000 came from political action committees, and $570,000 came from McKinley himself. Oliverio is on slightly behind, collecting a total of $832,000 donations. Over $708,000 came from individuals, over $104,000 came from PAC money, and $20,000 came from the candidate himself.

McKinley may have more money than Oliverio, but he doesn’t have more coal industry support. In fact, he has very little it seems. Looking at the Federal Election Commission reports, McKinley has received no PAC support and only $11,000 from individuals connected to the coal industry. That number could be much larger, but every FEC report turned by his campaign has large portions of information missing, including employer information. This makes it far more difficult for journalists or citizens seeking specific information on donors.

For example, unless a person recognizes the name Don L. Blankenship, one could easily glance over the information due to the “information requested” category the name falls under. Blankenship is the Chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, which is currently under investigation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration for the April explosion at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch coal mine. That explosion killed 29 miners, and while the cause is yet unknown both MSHA and Massey have waged a war less on facts and more on public relations. Blankenship donated $2,400 and Massey Energy public and community relations manager Troy Andes, also a Republican member of the House of Delegates, donated $250.

On the other hand, the coal industry ponied up nearly $85,000 for Oliverio. Big spenders included executives and family associated with MEPCO, CONSOL Energy, and International Coal Group. Oliverio also received nearly $13,000 from executives of GenPower, a company that works on sustainable energy projects.

On an interesting note, two Republican State Senators donated to Oliverio over McKinley. Outgoing State Sen. Frank Deem (R-Wood) and State Sen. Clark Barnes (R-Randolph). Barnes had been a pre-candidate for the 1st Congressional race, choosing not to officially file for the primary. Barnes was also discussed as a possible Senate candidate, but never filed for the primary.

When the new quarterly reports are filed with the FEC we’ll have a complete breakdown of the donations to all federal candidates.

UPDATE: When digging a little deeper both donations from Sens. Barnes and Deem to Sen. Oliverio came before the May primary.

“Mike and his family have become close friends of my family,” explained Barnes.  His goal was helping Oliverio defeat Rep. Mollohan in the primary, but has turned his attentions to electing McKinley in the general election.

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Posted under Campaign Finance, Elections, Featured, News, Politics, Transparency, U.S. House of Representatives.
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