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Outside groups spend $1.4 million on governor's race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Independent groups have spent more than $1.4 million for campaign ads attacking gubernatorial candidates Earl Ray Tomblin and Bill Maloney, according to disclosures filed with the secretary of state's office.

Since mid-August, the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, based in Washington and funded primarily by the Republican Governors Association, has spent $768,098 for its "West Virginia Pays" campaign on television, radio and the Internet.

Initial spots attacked Tomblin, the state Senate president who is acting as governor, for being a career politician who during his 36 years in the Legislature has voted for several legislative pay raises, and has traveled to exotic locations to attend legislative conferences.

The committee reported initial expenditures totaling $531,023 to Smart Media Group and On Message, Inc., both of Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 29.

It listed a second set of expenditures to the two companies totaling $203,825 on Sept. 12, coinciding with the launch of new ads featuring a greyhound racing theme. That ad contends that Tomblin "diverted" more than $2 million of funds to a family owned greyhound breeding kennel, a allegation the Tomblin campaign has said is false, since the funds supplement purses distributed to winning greyhounds at the state's two greyhound tracks.

America Works USA, also based in Washington and funded primarily by the Democratic Governors Association, reported spending a total of $631,000 to date on ads attacking Republican challenger Maloney.

The group reported paying Wired Media Partners $332,064 on Aug. 30, and an additional $298,936 on Sept. 12.

Those dates coincide with launch of two ads, the first of which portrayed Maloney as a millionaire businessman who has opposed workplace safety measures and has been late paying business taxes.

The newest spot notes that Maloney, who has been critical of state-funded incentives to attract businesses, received a low-interest state loan to start up the drilling company he co-founded.

"Bill Maloney has already made his fortune," the ad states. "Shouldn't we get the same chance as millionaires like Bill Maloney?"

Combined, the expenditures are nearly double what the candidates themselves had reported spending on their campaigns, as of the most recent candidate financial disclosures, filed on Aug. 26.

Under state election law, entities conducting independent electioneering communications campaigns must file disclosures with the secretary of state's office each time their expenditures exceed $5,000.

The law also requires those organizations to disclose all contributors who've given more than $1,000.

None of the disclosure forms list any contributors.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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