Last Wednesday, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), an organization dedicated to electing Republicans to state attorney general offices, announced a digital ad campaign in West Virginia praising the state’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, for his efforts on behalf of the coal industry. The group wasn’t shy about its pro-coal focus. The headline of a press release announcing the ads literally read, “RAGA Thanks Patrick Morrisey for Defense of Coal.” On an online petition, RAGA also declared that AG Morrisey “is a true friend of the coal industry.”
In particular, RAGA is praising Attorney General Morrisey for leading the legal fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan that recently resulted in the Supreme Court’s temporary blocking of the plan’s implementation. “Were it not for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s efforts to stymie the Clean Power Plan, the President would’ve been successful in inflicting even more damage to the industry that employs tens of thousands of hard working West Virginians,” RAGA Chairman and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.
It’s not surprising that the organization is celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to halt the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as a win for the coal industry. The industry, after all, is a significant source of funds for the group.
In fact, three of RAGA’s top ten contributors in 2015 are part of the industry. The Murray Energy Corporation, which is one of the top coal producers in the country, contributed $250,000 to RAGA, making it the fourth largest donor in 2015. Koch Industries, whose affiliate Koch Carbon trades and transports bulk commodities like coal, contributed $225,000 in 2015 and was RAGA’s fifth largest donor. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a trade association that represents “industries involved in producing electricity from coal,” was the sixth largest donor with $223,400 in contributions. Not including Murray Energy, ACCCE members and their subsidiaries contributed an additional $276,100 to RAGA in 2015.
As CREW has previously noted, RAGA ran ads last year attacking a Democratic AG candidate for being “funded by special interests” while ignoring the organization’s own reliance on special interests for funding. Now, the group is spending money to promote one of its members – who happens to sit on the group’s executive committee – for protecting an industry that funds it.