Secretive conservative group holding $100K fundraiser in Charleston

What are you doing for breakfast on Tuesday? Here are some options:

You could have cereal at home. You could go to Tudor’s, where a sausage biscuit costs $1.79. Or, you could go to the Courtyard Marriott, on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston, where Go West Virginia, a secretive conservative group that helps Republican political candidates, is holding a fundraising breakfast, menu unknown.

The cost to attend the breakfast is $100,000 per person.

Go West Virginia Inc., was founded in 2013 and there is almost no publicly available information on the organization. It has only one listed employee and only a Post Office box for its address.

Its president is Mark Scott, an Elkins realtor.

Scott’s number also is listed as the RSVP number on the invitation to the Tuesday fundraiser.

Reached by phone Saturday, Scott would not answer any questions.

“All media inquiries go through our attorney,” he said.

That attorney, Eric Lycan, was a counsel for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s recent re-election campaign in Kentucky. He did not return requests for comment.

The invitation, obtained by the Gazette-Mail, describes the “Business Breakfast” on Tuesday as an “exclusive invitation for West Virginia business leaders.” It lists several “commitment options” for those who want to attend.

Attendees can make a $100,000 contribution. They can make a $100,000 commitment, to be donated in 2015. Or, attendees can split the difference and make any donation now with a commitment to donate $100,000 this year.

The invitation also lists an email address, info@gowv.org, but emails to that address requesting more information were not returned.

Go West Virginia’s website says it is “dedicated to moving West Virginia and our country in the right direction.”

The website lists issues that have all been priorities of the new Republican majority in the West Virginia Legislature: legal reform, repealing the state’s alternative energy portfolio, repealing the state’s prevailing-wage law and making West Virginia a “right-to-work” state.

About two weeks ago, Go West Virginia bought full-page ads in both Charleston newspapers to promote those issues.

In October, just before the general election, Go West Virginia gave $355,000 to Grow WV, a political action committee that spent more than $1.4 million supporting Republican candidates in the 2014 elections, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures.

The two organizations share more than just rhyming names.

Scott also is listed as the treasurer of Grow WV and the two organizations share the same P.O. box in Elkins.

Last year, Grow WV also received $50,000 from the campaign of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, $10,000 from the campaign of Rep. David McKinley, $450,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, and $220,000 from an organization called the Republican State Leadership Committee.

As a super PAC, Grow WV can accept unlimited donations to spend on elections, but it must disclose its donors.

However, one of its biggest donors is Go West Virginia, a so-called “social welfare organization” that is not required to disclose its donors.

Go West Virginia also held a $25,000 fundraiser in January, at Edgewood Country Club, in Charleston. That event, the country club said, was attended by about 18 people.

“There are no limits on the amounts that may be contributed to Go West Virginia Inc.,” the invitation to the January fundraiser read. “Contributions of $5,000 or more will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service on the IRS form 990 as required by law; however the IRS does not make this information public. Go West Virginia Inc.’s policy is not to disclose its donors to the general public.”

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5119 or follow @davidlgutman on Twitter.

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