[This piece was published on the original Home Yesterday in March, 2015.]
We haven’t had enough kind things to say about Senator Cole’s Senate and Speaker Armstead’s House at Home Yesterday. So let’s give it a try: These two Republican leaders are pretty transparent.
When the oil and gas industry’s biggest money maker – “forced pooling,” hung in the balance (and never mind your property rights), “GoWV” and Senator Cole apparently scheduled a $100,000 breakfast with whoever-the-heck-can-pay-$100,000 for breakfast with Bill Cole. I have to admit it was pretty transparent to distribute a flyer inviting people willing to pony up six figures for breakfast. Likewise, when word got out of what our Lieutenant Governor was up to, it was equally transparent to cancel the breakfast after being found out. It’s candid to tell everyone that there was no shame in doing this – just shame in being caught.
I hope Senator Cole didn’t go hungry that day.
Relatedly, just last week, after Cole and Senator Carmichael tried to increase campaign limits to $50,000, per-person, for Delegates, $100,000, per-person, for Senators, and $250,000 for statewide races, embarrassment got the better of them the same way it did about the breakfast, and Cole allowed those amounts to be lowered to “only” $2,700 per person. Senator Jeff Kessler insisted on increasing required disclosures of “dark money” as a compromise and that’s what passed the Senate.
That brings us to Speaker Armstead and his Judiciary Chair, Delegate Shott, who promptly had a House committee gut those disclosure requirements so that gray money groups like “Go West Virginia” that sponsor $100,000 breakfasts and run false advertising wouldn’t have to say a peep about who gets the money. Senator Cole evidently gave the orders, along with his colleague Richie Heath, of CALA fame. That’s pretty transparent of Speaker Armstead, to fix up the law for Senator Cole – taking away with the fork hand what Cole had only pretended to give with his knife hand.
Centuries ago it was observed that when a man is bought, he should stay bought. That shows integrity. You hate to see someone who will switch sides for more money, instead of dancing with who brung ‘em. Good on these “bold new leaders” for exhibiting a certain type of uprightness. At least we know who they are willing to eat with.
I’ll say it: it’s very candid and forthright of the Don Blankenship Republicans to let us know that no one without $100,000 to fork over has a place at their table. It’s downright honest of them to advertise, in the first Republican legislative session in eighty years, just exactly how much cash it takes to take a turn pulling their strings. Now that they’ve pocketed these compliments, I wonder if they’ll show a little more transparency, and answer these questions:
What, did the most powerful Republicans in Charleston plan to sell for $100,000 a plate? A man who pays $100,000 for breakfast expects to eat, doesn’t he? So what were you really serving up?