This article originally provided by The Herald-Dispatch

September 1, 2006

Dems: State is not for sale

By Bryan Chambers
The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Democrats united at Pullman Square on Wednesday to oppose efforts by Don Blankenship to use his personal wealth to influence the outcomes of several state legislative races in November.

During a brief rally, state Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey distributed a list of several local House and Senate candidates who have received $1,000 contributions from Blankenship and questioned whether those candidates are now in the "pockets" of the Massey Energy CEO.

"(Blankenship's) confident the 42 Republican candidates who have received contributions will dance on his strings," Casey said. "Now, these candidates have taken his money, they're in his pocket and they agree with him."

According to campaign finance reports on the Secretary of State's Web site, six Republicans who are running for local House and Senate seats have received $1,000 contributions from Blankenship. They include: Tom Scott, nominee for the 5th Senate District; Carol Miller, nominee for the 16th House District; Kelli Sobonya and Greg Howard, 16th House District incumbents; and Luiza Peana, nominee in the 17th House District.

Blankenship also sent a $1,000 contribution to Tommy Smirl, a Republican nominee in the 15th House District, but he returned the check to Blankenship with a note saying "Thanks, but no thanks," according to Smirl's most recent campaign finance report.

Last month, Blankenship announced plans to wrest control of at least one chamber of the Legislature from the majority Democrats in November. He has called his effort "and for the sake of the kids," the same name of the campaign he spearheaded in 2004 that helped elect Republican Brent Benjamin to the state Supreme Court.

Blankenship also claimed credit for the 2005 defeat of Gov. Joe Manchin's $5.5 billion pension bond sale proposal in a special election.

Sobonya said she accepted Blankenship's $1,000 contribution, because "you have to run a campaign and have contributions."

"He's his own person, and I have no coordination with his efforts," Sobonya said. "I'm the same legislator and candidate, regardless of who I accept contributions from.

"For Nick Casey to say Republicans are selling out to Don Blankenship is conceding the fact that Democrats are selling out to trial lawyers and gambling associations for taking $1,000 donations."

Sobonya added that she also accepted a $1,000 contribution from Blankenship in 2004, but voted last year to support Manchin's pension bond sale proposal.


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