This article originally provided by The Charleston Gazette

January 17, 2005

Coal, doctors' groups donated to anti-McGraw effort

Massey President Donald Blankenship remains largest donor

By Paul J. Nyden
Staff writer

The West Virginia Coal Association and a Wheeling physicians group both contributed heavily to And For the Sake of the Kids, a political group that attacked former Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw during last year's campaign, according to federal filings.

Doctors for Justice, a group of physicians based in Wheeling, gave $745,000, while the Coal Association contributed $223,000.

According to the latest report filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the group raised more than $3.6 million between August and November. Most of that came from Massey Energy President Donald L. Blankenship, who contributed nearly $2.5 million, or nearly 69 percent of the group's total funding.

Blankenship, the Coal Association and the doctors' group accounted for 95.4 percent of all contributions to the group. The rest of the money came from 18 smaller contributors, most of whom were tied to the coal industry.

Clay Communications, which once owned the Charleston Daily Mail, gave $10,000.

The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based group that analyzes political contributions and expenditures across the country, ranked And for the Sake of the Kids the nation's fifth-largest fund-raiser among all political groups directly involved in state election or state politics last year.

The four groups that raised more were: the Republican Governors Association, Democratic Governors Association, Republican State Leadership Committee and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

McGraw lost the November election to Republican Brent Benjamin, a Charleston lawyer.

Massey Energy is a defendant in several legal actions in which local residents are claiming environmental damages from Massey mining operations.

And the company is likely to appeal to the state Supreme Court a ruling in favor of former Boone County coal operator Hugh Caperton, finding that Massey illegally cut off Caperton's coal supply contracts with LTV Corp., then a major steel producer. With interest, that verdict is now worth $60 million.

Blankenship also contributed $100,000 to another IRS 527 political group, based in Cross Lanes, called Citizens for Quality Health Care. That group also ran ads supporting Benjamin and attacking McGraw.

That group also received $160,000 from the West Virginia Health Care Association, $85,000 from the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and $25,000 from the West Virginia Medical Association, according to its report filed with the IRS.

And for the Sake of the Kids paid salaries and expenses to two staff members between September and mid-November. Chris Wesley Hamilton of Charleston received $12,709 and Robert Cornelius, $9,387.

The group also paid $381,660 to Targeted Communication Strategies of Charleston, a business incorporated by Gregory A. Thomas on Aug. 6.

Previously, Thomas managed the 2002 state Senate campaign for former Sen. Lisa Smith, R-Putnam, who resigned her position Dec. 22 due to an undisclosed illness.

And for the Sake of the Kids also paid $154,665 for consulting services to Mercury Public Affairs, a New York City public relations firm operated by former top staffers for New York's Republican governor, George E. Pataki.

But most of the group's money went to pay for television, radio and telephone advertisements attacking McGraw.

Smaller contributions to And for the Sake of the Kids included: $30,000 from Chris Cline of Cline Resources and Development in Beckley, a contractor for Massey, and $3,000 from Bennett Hatfield, president of Arch Coal's eastern operations.

Other contributions included: $50,000 from William H. Nelson and Charles A. Nelson, owners of the Nelson Brothers in Birmingham, Ala.; $25,000 from Cecil I. Walker Machinery; $15,000 from James Powell, owner of Powell Construction in Johnson City, Tenn.; and $15,000 from officers of Jenmar Corp. in Pittsburgh, Pa..

Contributions from businesses based in Mingo County, where Blankenship lives, included: $5,000 each from: Everett Hannah, president of Hannah Lumber Co. in Varney; his wife Diann Hannah, manager of Southside Mall in Williamson; Stephanie Hannah Wollum, owner of the Steakside restaurant in Southside Mall; and Teresa Wicker, vice president of the Thoroughbred Steakhouse in Delbarton.

Carl Hubbard, president of And for the Sake of the Kids and owner of Sterling Trucking in Beckley, gave $1,000. Former coal operator Tracy W. Hylton gave another $1,000.

The group has $79,435 left in its treasury, according to its latest report to the IRS.

To contact staff writer Paul J. Nyden, use e-mail or call 348-5164.

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