A great deal of the expenditures in the period were for lobbyists' campaign contributions, but there were some interesting disclosures.
Alison Patient, former House Finance Committee counsel and currently lobbyist for Coca-Cola, reported spending $3,047, most of which was to underwrite the costs of hosting the governor and first lady as Earl Ray Tomblin served as a grand marshal for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race.
As usual, Patient provided meticulous detail of the expenses, which included lodging ($338 a room for four rooms), and meals (running between $41 and $58 per person for the overnight stay May 26-27.)
In addition to the Tomblins and two state troopers, Patient listed Hallie Mason, Tomblin's director of public policy, and Deputy Transportation Secretary Howard Mullens and his wife, Lori, as guests.
Along with meals and lodging, each member of the entourage received a commemorative race T-shirt, valued at $24, and Mrs. Tomblin, Mason and the Mullens each received race tickets valued at $190.
Under state Ethics law, public officials may not accept tickets to sporting events valued at more than $25, unless they are attending the event in an official or ceremonial capacity (as the Tomblins were doing at the race).
Ethics Commission Executive Director Theresa Kirk said there has never been an Ethics opinion to determine how far that exemption extends to the party traveling with the public official.
Kirk said it would be advisable for either Patient or the governor's office to seek an advisory opinion on the issue.
Meanwhile, Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino lobbyist Nelson Robinson listed the biggest bash of the summer on his disclosure, with spending totaling $5,333 to host about 45 legislators, Lottery and Racing commission staffers, and other public officials at the West Virginia Derby Aug. 3-4.
That included $1,431 of expenses for a VIP party Aug. 3, and $3,901 for a Derby day reception and dinner Aug. 4.
On a smaller scale, lobbyists Jan Vineyard of the Oil Marketers and Grocers Association and Steve White of White Law Offices split the $1,188 cost to a reception and dinner at the Power Alley Grill Aug. 13 while legislators were in Charleston for monthly interim meetings.
The 53 public officials who attended also received admission to the West Virginia Power game that evening, with the $7 tickets not only well within the limits of the Ethics Act, but a great bargain.Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.