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CONSOL guide lists endorsed candidates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At a time when many political action committees and special interest organizations are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and, in one case, $1.59 million -- in an attempt to influence the outcome of West Virginia elections, one company is taking a different approach.

According to financial disclosures filed this week with the Secretary of State's Office, Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy's independent expenditure campaign is at the other extreme: $10.89 per candidate.

Turns out, that's the pro-rated cost of publishing a voter's guide listing 116 endorsed candidates running for statewide offices, and for the state Senate or House of Delegates, according to Jake Glance, spokesman for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

"My understanding is that CONSOL Energy produced a 'voter guide' supporting several candidates. It was one guide with several endorsements, so they disclosed it as each candidate as a portion of the total cost," he said Wednesday.

The four-page voter's guide features a cover, which calls the Nov. 6 election "a pivotal point for the future of our country," and states, "Many of our national priorities and policies will be established with the outcome of this election, with one of particular importance to us all -- will governments provide a reasonable regulatory environment and level playing field for the continued production and utilization of coal and natural gas?"

The second page compares energy policy positions of the presidential candidates, while the third page is divided between National Mining Association COALPAC endorsements of congressional candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, and the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance COAL PAC endorsements of General Assembly candidates.

The entire back cover is the West Virginians for Coal PAC endorsements.

Endorsements for statewide offices include Earl Ray Tomblin for governor, Natalie Tennant for secretary of state, Glen Gainer for auditor, Mike Hall for treasurer, Walt Helmick for agriculture commissioner and Patrick Morrisey for attorney general, as well as Robin Davis and Allen Loughry for state Supreme Court.

It also endorses 15 candidates (nine Democrats and six Republicans) for state Senate, and a total of 91 House of Delegates candidates.

At $10.89 per candidate, that would bring the cost of publication of the West Virginia page of endorsements to a little more than $1,200, and the overall cost of the voters' guide to about $4,800.

Neither Tommy Johnson, director of governmental affairs, nor Lynn Seay, director of media relations for CONSOL, returned calls Wednesday.

CONSOL announced this week that it will be idling its Miller Creek surface mine operations in Mingo County at the end of the year, resulting in layoffs for 145 employees.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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