Republican Governors Association begin new TV ads
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Republican Governors Association began airing a new television ad Friday that supports GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney and criticizes a mine reclamation bill passed by the Legislature - and backed by a majority of Republicans.
Earlier this year, the state Senate passed the bill with a unanimous 33-0 vote. The House of Delegates approved the bill, 85-14.
The West Virginia Coal Association also backed the legislation, which increases taxes on coal production to finance reclamation of abandoned mine lands and polluted waters.
That ad and a second recent TV ad drew criticism from a Jackson County Republican, Sen. Karen L. Facemyer, on Friday.
"It is a political season, so it doesn't make any difference how good a bill is," Facemyer said. "Some people want to make it look bad to help their candidate. Hopefully, the public out there understands that."
Larry Puccio, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said, "I can't believe Bill Maloney and the Republican Governors Association are attacking their own Republican legislators, for the second time during this election campaign, for supporting responsible legislation along with all of the Democrats and the Coal Association.
"Are Maloney and the RGA trying to defeat these Republican legislators?" Puccio asked. "Once again, Maloney's out-of-state friends just don't get it."
Seth Wimer, Maloney's campaign manager, did not comment on the television ad criticizing the mine reclamation bill.
Wimer's written response stated, "Earl Ray supports Obama on ObamaCare; Earl Ray supports Obama on cap-and-trade and Earl Ray supports Obama's re-election. Likewise, Obama's political machine is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-elect Earl Ray Tomblin with a false and negative campaign
"Bill Maloney is actively campaigning against Obama's re-election and will work to stop the Obama-Tomblin policies that hurt West Virginians.
Mike Schrimpf, the Republican Governors Association's communications director, said the new ad focuses on "the most recent example of Tomblin increasing taxes on coal. That is what this ad is about. This is not the first time he has raised taxes on coal. He also did that in 2005 and 1989.
"Earl Ray Tomblin is on TV acting like he is fighting for the coal industry. The fact is that he has repeatedly increased taxes on coal. In the last six months, the coal industry has lost thousands of jobs in West Virginia," Schrimpf said.
The new Mine Reclamation Bill raises taxes on processed coal from 14 cents to 28 cents a ton, which will include 15 cents to treat water at abandoned mine sites. Revenues are expected to rise from $19 million to $36 million annually.
Randy Huffman, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, requested the tax increase.
When the legislation was introduced, Coal Association President Bill Raney called the tax increase a "necessary evil."
Derek Scarbro, executive director of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said, "The Coal Association thought this was a reasonable thing to do. I find it hard to believe that a Republican organization is blasting legislation that had a lot of Republicans supporting it."
Facemyer also mentioned a previous ad supporting Maloney that attacked OPEB legislation passed by the Legislature earlier this year. Facemyer also supported that legislation.
The "Other Post Employment Benefits" bill seeks to control non-pension payments to retired state workers and public school teachers, payments such as health-care benefits.
Featuring two quacking ducks, the narrator of the RGA ad says, "What's that old saying? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck ...
"Earl Ray Tomblin's plan for state retirees' health care sure does looks like another plan we've seen: Obamacare -- Obama's plan for bureaucrats in charge of seniors' health care. ... A duck is a duck."
The ad shows Tomblin standing in water while an image of President Barack Obama rises up on the right. Obamacare is then compared to OPEB.
Facemyer said, "OPEB got us on track to pay off some debts to protect our retired workers. I had no idea it would turn out to be part of Obamacare. Some people do whatever it takes to be elected. It doesn't have to be true. That is what is wrong with our political process."
The OPEB bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House of Delegates by an 83-17 majority. The majority of Republican legislators supported it.
When asked about the OPEB ad, Wimer responded, "Barack Obama raised money for his Washington political allies who spent millions last year to run a false and negative campaign against Bill Maloney and his history of creating West Virginia jobs.
"Their smear campaign was so dishonest that an independent group labeled it 'one of the most dishonest campaigns this year' and they were forced to pull some ads off the air for being misleading.
"This year, Obama's political allies are back with a vengeance, and they are trying to cover up Earl Ray's failed record that has resulted in fewer jobs, more corruption, and more wasteful spending," Wimer said. "Earl Ray Tomblin's allegiance to Obama and his Washington political allies should come as a surprise to no one."
Puccio said the OPEB bill is "widely supported by editorial boards across the state. County boards of education also support it heavily.
"It made West Virginia the first state in the nation to address this long-term debt that every state has," Puccio said.
The OPEB bill includes a provision eliminating state-subsidized health care coverage for any employee who was hired after July 1, 2010.
Commenting on the OPEB bill, Schrimpf said that, "Republicans offered amendments to the legislation that did not get passed by the Democrats when they voted for the overall package.
"Tomblin could have had his party make reforms he wanted to make without including Obamacare-like provisions. Republicans tried to strip them out, but were not able to do it."