Two GOP primary candidates for U.S. Senate in West Virginia are reaching into their own pockets to pay for their campaigns.
Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey are pouring personal loans into their campaign accounts.
According to his report, Blankenship has not raised a cent for his campaign. Instead, he loaned himself $400,000 in November. Since then, his campaign spent more than $250,000, mostly on TV advertising.
A spokesman for the campaign did not respond when asked if Blankenship would raise money down the line or pay his own way entirely.
Blankenship, who was convicted in December 2015 of conspiring to violate federal mine safety and health standards, was fined $250,000 in addition to spending a year in prison as a result of that conviction.
Morrisey loaned his campaign $320,000 between October and December, adding to the roughly $445,000 he raised last quarter. That leaves him with $1.1 million on hand for the campaign, according to the disclosures.
Past election data shows Morrisey has a history of personally loaning his campaigns hefty sums of money, usually without repayment.
He loaned his 2012 attorney general campaign $1.44 million, according to his post-general election campaign financial disclosure. He loaned his 2016 re-election campaign $528,000, according to the same filing that year.
Morrisey makes nearly $95,000 per year as attorney general. According to his financial disclosures with the U.S. Senate and the West Virginia Ethics Commission, his work as attorney general is his only source of employment. They also show his wife works as a partner at Capitol Counsel, a major lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.
A spokeswoman for the campaign said Morrisey used personal savings to pay for the loans.
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., has not loaned his campaign any money. He raised about $203,000 between October and December, leaving him with $1.4 million on hand.
Another Republican in the race, Bo Copley, did not have his financial disclosure online as of Saturday. The deadline is Thursday.
Two other GOP challengers, Jack Newbrough and Tom Willis, did not begin their campaigns until after Jan. 1, and so do not have to disclose their finances until next month. Willis said Saturday he knows other Republicans have a head start on him in both fundraising and name recognition, but he’ll find a way to beat them out.
Incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., raised $787,000 between October and December, according to his year-end filing, adding to his $4.7 million already in the bank.
Manchin’s only challenger in the Democratic primary is activist Paula Jean Swearengin.
Because Willis filed for election in calendar year 2018, he has not yet had to file any report with the FEC.
Along with candidate accounts, political action committees could come into play in the election. A PAC supporting Morrisey, 35th Inc., has about $470,000 to help him out for the campaign.
But that’s less than he said in a news release sent out last month, in which he claimed the PAC had raised $700,000 to date, citing an article in the Washington Examiner. The PAC has raised about $525,000 in total, according to its FEC report. A Morrisey spokeswoman said the campaign got the information from the Washington Examiner report.
Meanwhile, Mountain State PAC, which has supported Jenkins in the past, appears to be inactive. It raised $70 in the last six months.