Statehouse Beat: Lobbyists' spending reports
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As always, the second report -- May through August -- of lobbyists' spending on legislators and government officials drops off considerably from the January-April report, which includes spending during the 60-day regular session.
This year, it dropped off from $284,782 to $39,954, for a year-to-date total of $324,736, but still provided opportunities for lobbyists to entertain legislators and others on the road.
One of the highlights, reported by lobbyist Nelson Robinson, was the West Virginia Derby horse races at Mountaineer Race Track on Aug. 2-3.
Mountaineer spent $4,459 to host public officials at a Friday VIP reception and Saturday cocktail hour and dinner.
Attendees included: Delegates Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock; Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia; Michael Ferro, D-Marshall; Anthony Barill, D-Monongalia; Mike Mannypenny, D-Taylor; Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha; Denise Campbell, D-Randolph; William Romine, R-Tyler; Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, each with guests; and Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
Also, Senate Clerk Joe Minard and guest, Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro and guest, senior Deputy Attorney General Kelli Talbott and guest, Racing Commissioner Bill Phillips and guest, Racing Commission Executive Director Jon Amores and guest, and Lottery Commissioner Bill Clayton.
Robinson is one of the better lobbyists when it comes to itemizing disclosures on his Ethics Commission forms. His spending on meals and beverages during the period were:
April 4, Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, Soho's, $8.48; April 10, Delegate Skaff, Soho's, $8.22; April 27, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Villa Romana (Myrtle Beach), $70.48; Aug. 19, Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, and wife, Soho's, $22.26; Aug 20, Senate President Jeff Kessle, D-Marshall, and Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, Marriott, $21.20 total.
Lobbyists also continued the tradition of following legislators to out-of-state conferences, and splitting the tab for hosting "West Virginia night" receptions and dinners on-site.
On Aug. 13, lobbyists Heather Densmore, Larry Swann, Alison Patient, Sarah Smith, George Cook, Jason Webb, Nancy McKee and Jason Wazelle split the $2,832 tab to host West Virginia night at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Atlanta.
Attendees included: Delegates Don Perdue, D-Wayne; Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia; Wells, and Marshall; House Finance Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, and guest; House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison; Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley; and Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion.
Likewise, lobbyists Chris Marr and Wazelle split the $1,187 tab for dinner at Wintzell's Oyster House in Mobile, Ala., on July 28 for legislators attending the Southern Legislative Conference 2013 meetings.
That included Sens. Kessler, Unger, Prezioso, and Sens. Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan; Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel; Doug Facemire, D-Braxton; Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; and Dave Sypolt, R-Preston; and Delegates Wells, Swartzmiller, Romine, and Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral.
Marr also reported buying lunch for Kessler, Edgell, Kirkendoll and Facemire July 28, at a cost of $20 each.
(Ironically, Senate expenses for the SLC trip included $2,433 to Kessler, $1,832 to Kirkendoll, $1,692 to Edgell, and $1,180 to Facemire.)
Dominion Resources lobbyist Bob Orndorff had one of the more interesting disclosures, reporting that his employer had made a $20,000 contribution to support the Democratic Leadership Committee conference June 2-3 at The Greenbrier.
Although the event drew hundreds of Democrat legislators from several states, Orndorff estimated the expenditure on the six West Virginia legislators attending at $1,200, or $200 each, with Sens. Kessler, Unger, and Ron Stollings, D-Lincoln, and Delegates Skaff, Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, and Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, in attendance.
(The included itinerary didn't seem to leave a lot of time for strategizing, beginning with a reception, dinner, and bowling Sunday evening, and breakfast, golf and a reception and dinner Monday.)
Jan Vineyard, with the Oil Marketers and Grocers Association (OMEGA) and Steve White, with White Law Offices, co-hosted a night at Appalachian Power Park Aug. 19, while the Legislature was in town for monthly interim meetings.
Total cost was $1,775, or $25 per person, including 56 legislators and state officials who attended, at a cost of $1,400. (Not much of a group discount, considering White is a part owner of the West Virginia Power.)
Finally, some miscellaneous highlights:
* Lobbyist and former legislator Gil White reported spending $1,307 for dinner at The Greenbrier on Aug. 28 during the state Chamber of Commerce Business Summit for Kessler; Miley and his wife; Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, and his wife; and Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh. That works out to about $217.83 per.
* Lobbyist and former legislator Marc Harman reported expenditures of $507.25: $7.25 meals/beverages for Delegate Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, and a $500 campaign contribution to Congressional candidate Nick Casey.
* Lobbyist and state Democratic Party head (and former Manchin chief of staff) Larry Puccio reported spending $123.60 to buy Kessler dinner Aug. 19 at the Chop House, with the notation, "Social only- - no lobbying."
Reach Phil Kabler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1220.