Hilland said he could not comment on any specific cases. He also said he did not know how many violations were discovered by the FEC and how many came from submitted complaints.
In May, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit, filed a complaint with the FEC asking it to investigate 32 people nationwide, including Cushman, for exceeding the donation limits.
CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, said they had received confirmation that the FEC was investigating, but nothing more.
"Usually, it's just when someone files a complaint," Sloan said of FEC investigations. "But when they file a complaint they have to investigate."
The penalty for violating the contribution limits is a fine, up to double the amount of the contributions.
The FEC's website warns people not to violate the limits accidentally.
Sloan said that the donations they filed complaints about were not accidental.
"We picked people who were sophisticated players in the world of campaign donations," she said. "People who contribute regularly know what the limits are."
It can be difficult to track the donations of individual donors. That's because there is no universal identifier for individual donors.
For instance Cushman, an executive with Phillips Machine Services, which makes mining equipment, gave $114,185 to candidates and $77,000 to parties and PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Both of those numbers exceed the limits, but Cushman's donations are listed under the names Thomas S. Cushman, Thomas Cushman and Tom Cushman, making it more difficult to compile the totals.
Donors with different listed addresses can also make it more difficult. Even adding something as simple as a prefix, like Mr., can make it more difficult to track the FEC filings.
Phillips, also an executive with Phillips Machine Services, donated $127,083 to candidates, nearly three times the allowable limit, but he did so under the names Jack Phillips and Jack R. Phillips and sometimes under a Beckley address and sometimes under an address in nearby Ghent.
Phillips also appears to have exceeded the donation limit for the 2010 election cycle, when he donated $48,900 to federal candidates. The limit for donations to candidates in 2010 was $45,600.
Hayhurst, the president of David Stanley Consultants, which provides staffing and consulting for mines, gave $106,600 to candidates in 2012, according to FEC filings.
In total, the four executives made 222 federal political donations in the 2012 election cycle and 207 of those were to Republican candidates or committees. Of the others, six donations went to Democrats (five of those six went to Sen. Joe Manchin), eight went to mining-related PACs and one went to the American Hospital Association.
The vast majority of the money donated by the four men went to out-of-state politicians, although some stayed in West Virginia.
Rep. David McKinley received $12,100 from the four men, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito received $7,400 and former Delegate Rick Snuffer, who was defeated in his congressional race by Rep. Nick Rahall, received $8,400.Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.