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Statehouse beat: Lobbyist spending for 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With the 2014 legislative session just beginning to pick up momentum -- and it didn't help that the House of Delegates decided to drop and cover for days during the water crisis -- we now have final numbers on what the more than 300 registered lobbyists spent on legislators and state officials in calendar year 2013.

The total: $395,478, including $70,741 spent in the third reporting period, from September through December, according to disclosures filed with the state Ethics Commission.

Much of the "third-quarter" spending was in the form of campaign contributions, topped by $12,200 by Christina Cameron and $10,250 by Paul Hardesty.

Others with notable amounts of contributions were the Chamber of Commerce's Steve Roberts, $2,600; Phil Reale, $1,600; Mark Polen, $1,450; Tom Heywood, $1,450; Tom Susman, $1,243; and Larry Swann, $1,200.

(Lobbyists need not disclose individual contributions on the Ethics disclosures, presumably since the info will appear on candidates' campaign spending filed with the Secretary of State. However, Jackson Kelly attorney Timothy Huffman, who lobbies primarily for coal and insurance companies, designated that his $800 contribution went to Evan Jenkins for Congress.)

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Though nothing like the legislative session, there are a few receptions and dinners in the off-season.

Topping the latest list was the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, which hosted seven legislative dinners and receptions around the state at a total cost of $14,477, or $99.85 per person with 145 attendees. That included a total of 49 legislators, at a cost of $4,892.

The "tour" hit Martinsburg Nov. 7, Morgantown Nov. 13, Parkersburg Nov. 14, Wheeling Dec. 3, Elkins Dec. 4, Huntington Dec. 5, and Charleston on Dec. 12.

That was followed by a West Virginia AFL-CIO reception at the Civic Center on Oct. 23, at a cost of $11,216 for 300 participants. Among them were nine government officials, including Sens. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, and Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire; Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha; Auditor Glen Gainer; Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman; Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy; and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

Also, Chesapeake Energy reported spending $6,110 for Marshall's Capitol Classic pre-game reception at the Civic Center on Dec. 14. They reported 200 attended, at a cost of $30.55 each, including seven government officials, at $213.85.

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Lobbyists Rob Casto and Chris Marr have formed a public affairs company called CRW Management Group, and on Nov. 21 hosted a dinner at Laury's attended by Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, Majority Leader Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, and his wife, and six House staffers, at a total cost of $1,200.37, or $109.17 per person.

On Dec. 18, Mountaineer Casino lobbyist Nelson Robinson hosted a dinner at the casino's hotel for Delegates Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, and wife, Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke, and wife, and Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, for an "update on the gaming facility and issues related to the casino and racetrack," at a cost of $122.70 per person.

On Nov. 18, National Rifle Association national lobbyist Daniel Carey bought dinner for Miley, Swartzmiller, White and wife, House Finance Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, and wife, House Judiciary Chairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, and Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, at a cost of $56 per person.

Meanwhile, guest speakers at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's 2013 Annual Meeting at The Greenbrier Aug. 28-30 provided with meals and accommodations were: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ($399 total cost), Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, ($961), and Miley ($345).

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West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney continued a tradition of distributing Christmas fruit baskets (no "holiday baskets" for Bill ...) to various state offices.

This year, the tab hit $2,183 for 37 baskets, with recipients including the Department of Environmental Protection, Miners Health Safety and Training, Coal Mine Health and Safety, Mining and Reclamation, Water Resources, Homeland Security, and the Insurance Commission.

Also, the offices of Senate president, House speaker, House and Senate clerks, and various legislative committees, the Attorney General's office, Supreme Court, and departments of Commerce, Administration and Highways were recipients.

Last but not least, the governor's office received a total of five fruit baskets, with baskets delivered to the Constituent Services office, the "tunnel" staff, the general counsel staff, security staff, and to the governor's mansion.

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Finally, on the Legislature's social calendar this week: Tuesday, West Virginia Building Trades/ACT Foundation reception at the Recovery Lounge, and West Virginia Health Care Association reception at the Marriott; Wednesday, West Virginia Library Association reception at the Culture Center; and on Thursday, the West Virginia International Auto Show VIP Gala at the Civic Center.

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


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