West Virginia Members Go Quiet on Allegations Against Donor Law Firm
The Center for Public Integrity published a new report yesterday on how a top law firm for the coal industry has pulled out all the stops to prevent miners suffering from black lung from receiving health benefits.
The law firm, Jackson Kelly, goes “beyond aggressive advocacy, crossing into unethical behavior, according to current and former judges, lawyers and state disciplinary officials. As a result, sick and dying miners have been denied the modest benefits and affordable medical care that would allow them to survive and support their families.”
It’s a heartbreaking David and Goliath story that, unfortunately, too often ends with Goliath—Jackson Kelly and coal companies—winning and hard working coal miners left without health benefits.
After the story was published, the Charleston Daily Mail asked members of the West Virginia Congressional delegation for comment. Only Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is not running for re-election, responded, noting, “It's clear those with Black Lung face too many hurdles in getting their benefits. It's deeply frustrating to me, and I'm working to address this injustice and heartbreaking problem through legislation.”
So who is Jackson Kelly? To start, a big donor to West Virginia members’ campaigns.
In fact, in 2012, three of the top five recipients of Jackson Kelly employee donations were members of the West Virginia delegation, according to analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics (and a fourth ran and lost):
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has received $50,825 from Jackson Kelly employees during his time in Congress, his seventh-largest donor. (Update, 10/31: Manchin responded on Wednesday)
- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), running for U.S. Senate in 2014, is the biggest recipient of Jackson Kelly money, having raised $65,800 from firm employees during her career. In fact, in 2014, Jackson Kelly employees make up her third largest donor, having given $26,600.
- Rep. David McKinley (R) has received $15,700 from firm employees over time.
- The other member of the delegation, Rep. Nick Rahall (D), does not appear to have received Jackson Kelly donations.
While these offices did not respond to Daily Mail request for comment about this story, “Manchin, Capito, McKinley and Rahall all issued statements Tuesday pertaining to a coal rally Tuesday afternoon in Washington.”