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Coal shifts campaign spending to state level as conventions near


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Coal shifts campaign spending to state level as conventions near

Asthe second quarter ground to a close, coal company political action committeesand industry advocates continued to fund Republican candidates with fewexceptions, with two moving significant attention to state-level races.

Accordingto data compiled by the U.S. Federal Election Commission, a number of thesePACs continued contributions even as the companies that sponsored themnavigated federal bankruptcy courts.

Asits CEO and founder, Robert Murray, offered strong support for the RepublicanParty's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, Murray Energy Corp.'s PAC provided donations to severalU.S. senators facing re-election in 2016. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. John Hoeven,R-N.D., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, each received $5,000 from the company PAC.

Equalamounts were given to the Trusted Leadership PAC, which supported Sen. TedCruz, R-Texas, and the Life and Liberty PAC, which was controlled by Rep. BillJohnson, R-Ohio. The Life and Liberty PAC donated funds to Republicancandidates, including $2,700 to Portman's campaign.

TheMurray corporate PAC previously donated to Cruz's presidential campaign, butthe company's CEO shifted his support to Trump after the Texas senatorsuspended his campaign.

Thefinancial support for Portman came during a period when the industry around the incumbentsenator, including a rare endorsement from the United Mine Workers of Americaunion over challenger and former governor, Democrat Ted Strickland.

Coalhas become a focal point of political contests in Ohio after controversialcomments by theDemocratic Party's presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton about the future of theindustry caught fire among industry supporters.

Whilecoal sector bankruptcies slowed campaign contributions to a standstill amongsome producers in the midst of reorganization, including , others maintainedtheir giving through the second quarter.

Alpha, CONSOL look to statelevel contests

Afterfiling for bankruptcy protection last year, Alpha Natural Resources Inc.'s corporate PAC shifted itscontributions to four national candidates for Congress, a number of othernational PACs and almost 20 local contests in Virginia.

FromApril 1 through May 25, the Alpha PAC paid out contributions between $250 to$1,000 in support of local candidates, with the final donation going to Let'sGrow, Virginia!, a PAC established in 2015 in support of Republican EdGillespie, who is expected to run for governor of the commonwealth in 2017.

Alphahad no comment regarding the focus on Virginia during the second quarter of theyear, noting that PAC contributions are decided by a steering committee, notthe company itself. Alpha isheadquartered in Bristol, Va.

Duringthe latest quarter, a number of Virginia lawmakers back against a veto of a billthat would have extended coal industry tax credits in the commonwealth. Whilethe bill was vetoed by Virginia's Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, duringthe first quarter of the year, the final vote that could have overturned theexecutive action occurred during the second quarter.

Muchlike Alpha, CONSOL Energy Inc.'scorporate PAC split its attention between national congressional candidates andlocal contests, focusing heavily on the Pennsylvania legislature between Apriland June. During the second quarter, CONSOL's PAC contributed $45,000 tonational candidates and the Republican Senatorial Committee, with the largestsingle contribution — $17,500 — going to a PAC run in support of House SpeakerPaul Ryan, R-Wis.

Thecompany PAC also gave $43,000 to Pennsylvania candidates and the commonwealth'sHouse Republican Committee.

Facinga restructuring process of its own, PeabodyEnergy Corp.'s corporate PAC provided just three campaigncontributions during the second quarter, including rare industry support for aDemocrat: $1,000 to Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

"ThePeabody PAC's political spending reflects the company's overall businessinterests, and our actions are intended to support efforts that bring aboutgood public policy," said a company spokesperson.

TheNational Mining Association's COALPAC stepped up its contributions in May overthe previous month, paying out $16,500 to congressional candidates and nationalRepublican committees. The PAC has not reported contributions from the month ofJune.

TheFEC defines the 2016 election cycle as all contributions given from January2015 until the end of 2016. Corporate PACs are able to give to campaigns andcampaign committees.