The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

February 1, 2013

State may not be done with public election funding

CHARLESTON — West Virginia should continue to offer public funds to its Supreme Court candidates, and make permanent a pilot program offering such alternative financing from last year’s race, the State Election Commission agreed Thursday.

Commission members cited the Nov. 6 victory of now-Justice Allen Loughry, the only one of eight candidates in a two-seat race who applied and qualified for money from the pilot program.

A longtime clerk at the court who first ran as an independent and later as a Republican, Loughry prevailed in the race along with incumbent Justice Robin Davis.

“I think it was a good program and I think it was successful, as far as it went,” Commissioner Gary Collias said.

But Collias also cited the legal challenges that erupted during Loughry’s campaign, which have since led Loughry to call for changes to the program if it continues.

The pilot offered an alternative to the traditional method of raising funds and contributing to campaigns, which some feared threatened to erode public confidence in the judiciary. The program provided funds for the primary and general elections. It also offered additional money known as “rescue” funds, meant to help participating candidates keep pace with opponents or outside groups.

But the commission deadlocked over releasing the matching funds to Loughry after a U.S. Supreme Court and subsequent federal rulings struck down a similar provision in an Arizona program.

Loughry petitioned the state Supreme Court, seeking the funds’ release. The court turned him down in September, agreeing with the nation’s highest court that rescue funds wrongly deterred would-be contributors to opposing candidates or groups. The September decision also allowed him to leave the pilot and raise regular campaign cash.

Loughry did not attend Thursday’s commission meeting, but told The Associated Press in December that officials must change what didn’t work while improving what did.

“A candidate who participates in a program like this must have confidence that it is going to provide them with sufficient resources to run a viable campaign,” he said.

Loughry, who did not face a contested GOP primary, received close to $400,000 from the pilot program. Commission members weighed whether to seek increased funding levels for future candidates, to offset the loss of rescue money and acknowledge the climbing cost of election campaigns.

Commissioner Robert Rupp questioned whether the program ought to be expanded, perhaps to include circuit-judge races and maybe even offices in the other branches of government. The commission ended up sticking with a request that the Legislature make the pilot permanent for Supreme Court candidates.

“I think we ought to ask for something at least achievable and manageable first, and then go from there if we can get that,” Collias said.

Loughry’s new party largely opposed the pilot’s creation in 2010. Five of seven Republican senators present voted against the legislation’s final version, as did 18 of 29 GOP delegates in the House.

A former Democratic Party chairman, Mike Callaghan, meanwhile argued that the prospect of Loughry receiving matching funds discouraged him from contributing to his party’s nominees. Callaghan filed a federal lawsuit, which was eclipsed by the state Supreme Court case.

The pilot tapped an account maintained by the state auditor’s office for its funding, and around $2.6 million remains. That money will return to the state’s general revenue fund when the budget year ends June 30, if the pilot expires without being renewed.

Text Only
West Virginia
  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teacher planning, abortion ban among W.Va. vetoes

    Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed about 200 bills and nixed eight this year, leaving teachers and abortion opponents unsatisfied.

    April 7, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads