Several major coal companies hope to use newly loosened campaign-finance laws to pool their money and defeat Democratic congressional candidates they consider "anti-coal," including U.S. Senate nominee Jack Conway and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler in Kentucky.
The companies hope to create a politically active nonprofit under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, so they won't have to publicly disclose their activities — such as advertising — until they file a tax return next year, long after the Nov. 2 election.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last winter that corporations and labor unions may pour unlimited funds into such efforts to influence elections.
"With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not previously available in allowing our voices to be heard," wrote Roger Nicholson, senior vice president and general counsel at International Coal Group of Scott Depot, W.Va., in an undated letter he sent to other coal companies.
Nicholson declined to comment on his letter Tuesday, after the Herald-Leader obtained it.
"A number of coal industry representatives recently have been considering developing a 527 entity with the purpose of attempting to defeat anti-coal incumbents in select races, as well as elect pro-coal candidates running for certain open seats," Nicholson wrote. "We're requesting your consideration as to whether your company would be willing to meet to discuss a significant commitment to such an effort."
Nicholson listed three races "of interest": Conway against Republican Rand Paul for Kentucky's open Senate seat; Chandler against Republican Garland "Andy" Barr in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District; and Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall against Republican Elliott "Spike" Maynard in West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District.
Read more of this story at Kentucky.com