This article originally provided by The Charleston Gazette

May 20, 2007

Racetrack lobbyists not biggest spenders

With a few stragglers yet to file, the state’s 369 registered lobbyists reported spending a total of $231,794 during the 2007 regular session — or roughly $1,730 per legislator.

Despite the push to pass table games legislation this past session, racetrack lobbyists were not among the big spenders, according to Ethics Commission disclosures for the first four months of 2007.

Tourism industry lobbyist Carol Fulks topped that category, spending $3,917.

Her key expenditure was a reception sponsored by Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Center on March 8 — after the table games bill had passed the Legislature earlier that day — at a cost of $5,073, or $133 each for the 38 attendees. That included 20 public officials, at a cost of $2,670.

Also, in what appears to be the major lobbyist trend for the 2007 session, Fulks footed the tab for six lunches for legislators at the cafeteria-less Capitol. All were on the Senate side, including four lunches for the Senate Finance Committee.

By my rough count, of the 200 or so lobbyists filing reports last week, there were at least 51 separate listings of lobbyist-catered Capitol lunches for legislators and legislative staff.

Combined with last week’s reports, that works out to at least 78 catered lunches. Keep in mind, that with weekends, and with the Friday sessions that ended before noon, that’s spread out over about 36 workdays.

No wonder the reports show that legislators frequently had their pick of lobbyist-catered lunches on given days. (More on that later.)

Meanwhile, Charles Town Races lobbyist Nikki Barone reported spending a total of $343, mostly on meals and beverages for nine delegates.

She also listed $40 for expenses for an April 25 luncheon at the racetrack, attended by House Majority Leader (got it right this time) Joe DeLong, D-Hancock, Delegate Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson, Jefferson County Commissioner (and former delegate) Dale Manuel and Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Steven Nichols.

Other racetrack lobbyists reporting expenses were the state Racing Association’s John Cavacini, who spent $198 for the association’s share of costs for the Jan. 10 West Virginia Business and Industry Council reception and dinner; Marc Harman, who spent a total of $238 on meals and beverages on behalf of Penn National Gaming; Nelson Robinson, who spent $367 on meals and beverages for Mountaineer Racetrack; Louie Southworth, who spent $18.78 on behalf of Mountaineer; and Wendel Turner, who spent $17.86 lobbying for Mountaineer.

The only other expenses reported by a gaming lobbyist were from Patricia Pope, executive director of the West Virginia Amusement and Limited Video Lottery Association, who spent $1,863, most of it on an association reception Jan. 30.

The reception drew 52 people at a cost of $96 each, and included 19 public officials, for $1,833.


The apparent top-spender for the session was Ruth Lemmon, with the West Virginia Auto and Truck Dealers Association, at $26,748. However, her disclosure was sent back to be corrected, since she listed the entire $24,032 cost of the Jan. 19 VIP reception at the West Virginia Auto Show, instead of breaking out the cost for the public officials who attended.


Meanwhile, back to the most generous lunch providers. That included synfuel lobbyist Bill Perry, who spent more than $2,600 to cater lunches on Feb. 5, 14, 31 and March 2, as well as separate lunches and dinners on the last day of the session; and the Coal Association’s Bill Raney, who spent more than $2,700 for six lunches, including feeds for the House Finance Committee, and the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

BrickStreet Mutual officials, who’ve shown they know a thing or two about good free lunches, provided lunch on Feb. 28 and March 8, at a total cost of $469.


The most effective expenditure goes to Elaine Harris, who was lobbying for pay raises for state correctional officers. She reported spending $57.92 for Pay Day candy bars for each legislator.

Must have worked, since she successfully pushed through a multi-year pay raise for the officers.


Finally, I’m told Gov. Joe Manchin was more than a little perturbed with the item last week making light of his turkey hunting prowess, suggesting that he probably had a whole entourage with him on his much-publicized hunt.

In fact, Manchin went so far as to tell a reputable publication that — despite what his press release says — Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro was not with him on the hunt.

The official explanation from DNR: Jezioro accompanied Manchin on the trip to Pendleton County, but was off fishing when the governor outwitted, outlasted and outplayed the wily gobbler.

So how was Jezioro able to describe the hunt in such detail if he wasn’t there? Like all good hunters, Manchin provided a blow-by-blow recount of his adventure. (Around a campfire, no doubt.)

To contact staff writer Phil Kabler, e-mail at or call 348-1220.


Voter-Owned Elections

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