Saturday's Intelligencer editorial section carries an op-ed column by Bryan Holyman who is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of West Virginia. Holyman's piece is called "In 2016, Special Interests Hide True Intent" and he makes two points about the West Virginia super PAC called West Virginia Family Values: (1) their name is misleading, and (2) they are not average West Virginians.
(1) Is Holyman serious? A misleading name for a super PAC? Sorry, that's part of the sell regardless of the group's political leanings. How about the following -- all of which sound very worthy of our support: Center to Protect Patient Rights, American Future Fund, Freedom Partners Action Fund and Americans for Prosperity?
The last one may have given the list away -- all of the them are Koch-supported super PACs and I would venture a guess that the only freedom, future, and prosperity that they care about are the Kochs' and those of similar ilk. (In researching super PAC names, I also found "Americans for Progressive Action" which had connections to Karl Rove and Michele Bachman. Yes, the names for super PACs can be misleading.)
(2) Holyman also tells us that the contributors to "West Virginia Family Values" are not "average West Virginians" because they make far more than average West Virginians. Here, Holyman's wrath is aimed at "big government labor bosses" and in particular, "personal injury lawyers" who made West Virginia into a "judicial hellhole." Holyman tells us these groups have spent nearly "$2 million and counting in order to buy back the state. " Two million? I wonder what Holyman thinks about the $3.9 million in contributions to Republican Patrick Morrisey from the Republican Attorney General Association super PAC. From this morning's Gazette-Mail:
Meanwhile, RAGA — a group funded by coal operators, pharmaceutical companies and Republican donors Charles and David Koch — has spent $3.9 million on Morrisey’s behalf.
Yes, I'm sure the Kochs, pharmaceuticals, and coal operators are very much like Holyman's "average West Virginians."
Money rules both parties and until something is done about our election financing laws which favors big money interests, the spoils will almost always go to the biggest spenders.
Update - November 1
This morning's Charleston Gazette-Mail has an excellent front-page article by Andrew Brown on election spending in the state:
Most of the seats in the West Virginia Legislature are up for grabs, and unions, law firms, energy companies, the health care industry and anonymous Republican donors are all spending big to make sure their candidates win.
A weeks-long analysis by the Gazette-Mail shows that money is pouring into this year's legislative races from every avenue available, including contributions from wealthy individuals, donations from various political action committees and unrestricted spending by super PACs.
Like past elections, Democrats are benefiting primarily from the support of trial lawyers and labor unions, and Republicans are getting money from coal operators, gas companies and health care corporations.
But with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision firmly in place, this year's legislative races are also witness to a new wave of unlimited spending by third-party groups that have shelled out cash for mailers, radio spots and television ads across West Virginia.
Brown and the G-M staff do a good job of documenting the specifics.