CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Republican Governors Association began airing a new television ad Friday that supports GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney and criticizes a mine reclamation bill passed by the Legislature - and backed by a majority of Republicans.
Earlier this year, the state Senate passed the bill with a unanimous 33-0 vote. The House of Delegates approved the bill, 85-14.
The West Virginia Coal Association also backed the legislation, which increases taxes on coal production to finance reclamation of abandoned mine lands and polluted waters.
That ad and a second recent TV ad drew criticism from a Jackson County Republican, Sen. Karen L. Facemyer, on Friday.
"It is a political season, so it doesn't make any difference how good a bill is," Facemyer said. "Some people want to make it look bad to help their candidate. Hopefully, the public out there understands that."
Larry Puccio, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said, "I can't believe Bill Maloney and the Republican Governors Association are attacking their own Republican legislators, for the second time during this election campaign, for supporting responsible legislation along with all of the Democrats and the Coal Association.
"Are Maloney and the RGA trying to defeat these Republican legislators?" Puccio asked. "Once again, Maloney's out-of-state friends just don't get it."
Seth Wimer, Maloney's campaign manager, did not comment on the television ad criticizing the mine reclamation bill.
Wimer's written response stated, "Earl Ray supports Obama on ObamaCare; Earl Ray supports Obama on cap-and-trade and Earl Ray supports Obama's re-election. Likewise, Obama's political machine is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-elect Earl Ray Tomblin with a false and negative campaign
"Bill Maloney is actively campaigning against Obama's re-election and will work to stop the Obama-Tomblin policies that hurt West Virginians.
Mike Schrimpf, the Republican Governors Association's communications director, said the new ad focuses on "the most recent example of Tomblin increasing taxes on coal. That is what this ad is about. This is not the first time he has raised taxes on coal. He also did that in 2005 and 1989.
"Earl Ray Tomblin is on TV acting like he is fighting for the coal industry. The fact is that he has repeatedly increased taxes on coal. In the last six months, the coal industry has lost thousands of jobs in West Virginia," Schrimpf said.
The new Mine Reclamation Bill raises taxes on processed coal from 14 cents to 28 cents a ton, which will include 15 cents to treat water at abandoned mine sites. Revenues are expected to rise from $19 million to $36 million annually.
Randy Huffman, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, requested the tax increase.
When the legislation was introduced, Coal Association President Bill Raney called the tax increase a "necessary evil."