This article originally provided by The New York Times

June 27, 2006

Cabell library to show election documentary

By Dave Lavender
The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- There's a big movie coming out Tuesday and we're not just talking about the sneak peek to "Superman Returns," that's at 10 p.m. at Marquee Cinemas.

A little earlier in the evening,at 8 p.m., the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition is sponsoring a free public showing of the 2006 documentary, "The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress."

Directed by Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, the film takes a look at the criminal investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) who resigned from Congress after being indicted on campaign fundraising charges.

The film, which also features interviews with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, President George W. Bush and a host of Texas pundits including Jim Hightower, is showing all over the country today as part of Clean Money Day.

In Huntington, the film will show at 8 p.m. at the Cabell County Public Library, 3rd floor meeting room #2. Light refreshments will be served.

If you miss the screening, there will also be a showing at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 6 at Taylor Books, 226 Capitol St., Charleston co-hosted by the West Virginia People's Election Reform Coalition.

Janet Keating, co-director of OHVEC, said the film shines a light on how much democracy is at risk as huge sums of money get poured into politician's pockets.

"It paints the picture completely that the merger of state and corporate power is the death knell of democracy," Keating said.

In addition to the movie, Keating said they will hand out information about the broad, statewide coalition of more than two dozen grassroots groups such as the West Virginia Council of Churches, the Southern Appalachian Labor School, the AARP (West Virginia) and West Virginia Education Association, that favor state-supported clean elections in the state.

Modeled after successful laws in Arizona and Maine (among other states), the Clean Elections would offer a full public financing of campaigns for candidates who agree to limit spending and to take no money from private interests.

Keating said those type of laws bring power back to the people and dilute the overpowering influence of big money contributors such as Massey Coal CEO Don Blankenship.

In 2004, Blankenship made national headlines as he largely funded the group "And For the Sake of the Kids," that put $3.6 million into the West Virginia State Supreme Court judge race to get Brent Benjamin elected.

Muscled by a constant stream of attack ads, it was the most expensive judicial race in West Virginia history.

"People know in their guts how corrupt that the system is," Keating said. "In this, they can't miss the point that money is really corrupting, or maybe in our state the better word is undermining or stripping our state of its democracy."

Keating said she thinks the corruption is taking a toll on voters.

"... Only 26.22 percent of the voters statewide turned out for the 2006 Primary Election in West Virginia (and a little over 22 percent in Cabell County)," Keating said. "While we can't always blame poor voter turn-out on political corruption, it certainly doesn't foster trust in our elected officials or inspire people to become politically active. While public funding of campaigns won't fix all the problems with elections, it's a great first step."

For more info about clean elections in West Virginia, go online at


Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246