Ohio-based FirstEnergy and its employees spent $94,000 supporting the campaign of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin over the past 2 years. In the same story, The Journal reports:
Tomblin appoints members to West Virginia's Public Service Commission, a regulatory body that oversees utility companies including First Energy and its subsidiary, Potomac Edison.
Tomblin's office reported that the governor re-appointed Chairman Michael Albert [a former member of FirstEnergy's preferred regulatory law firm, Jackson Kelly] to oversee the three-person commission, effective July 1.
"FirstEnergy works with numerous elected officials in West Virginia and all the states where we have operations," company spokesperson Mark Durbin said. "The company does not comment on political contributions made by FirstEnergy employees other than they have the right to participate in the political process just like any other U.S. citizen."
Of course FirstEnergy has no comment. What is there to say when you've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar? Since FirstEnergy can't or won't explain itself, it's up to the citizens of West Virginia, who will have to live under the rule of Earl Ray for the next 4 years, to investigate and try to make some sense out of the fact that out of $96,450.00 contributed to the Governor's campaign by FirstEnergy and its employees, only $3,250.00 came from employees who are also citizens of West Virginia who will have to live with the consequences of their personal political giving.
Here's how the $96,450 breaks down:
FirstEnergy Corporate Donations: $4,000
FE Employees who live in OH: $73,750
FE Employees who live in PA: $12,450
FE Employees who live in MD: $750
FE Employees who live in NJ: $1,250
FE Employees who retired to FL: $1,000
FE Employees who live in WV: $3,250
Why do the good citizens of Ohio care so much about what happens in West Virginia? And why do these employees of a public utility have so much disposable income in these uncertain economic times that they are able to give so freely to a cause that's going to spend their hard-earned dollars on annoying TV commercials and junky campaign trinkets in another state where many of them won't even set foot? That just doesn't make sense.
I think it looks like FirstEnergy has bought themselves a Governor in a state where the company does business. Maybe it's worth it for these Ohio residents to have their day-to-day business dealings in West Virginia made smoother by having Earl Ray as their friend, too. I wonder if they got a picture signed by Earl Ray's purple pen in exchange for their generous contributions? You don't suppose that companies like FirstEnergy reimburse their employees for making these kind of personal out-of-state political contributions in order to get around limits on corporate contributions, do you? I wonder...
What else would explain the interest of homemaker Mrs. Becky Alexander of Akron, Ohio, in the campaign of Earl Ray Tomblin to the tune of $3,000? How many Prada purses could she have bought instead? Or maybe she just intends to stuff cash into all Earl Ray's openings and carry him around by the ears for the next 4 years? Personally, I would have chosen the Prada bag simply from a style perspective. What do you suppose Mr. Vincent Alexander of Akron, Ohio, got in return for his $3,000 donation to Tomblin? Or the $1,000 donations of Ohio residents Victor Alexander, Lauren Alexander, Jonathan Alexander and Abby Alexander? Are we sure they're not just being used to funnel FirstEnergy corporate cash into the West Virginia gubernatorial campaign? Thanks for your concern, Alexander family, but I would have rather you used that $10K to reduce the outrageous electric bills of a few senior citizens, or low income Potomac Edison customers, who have had their service shut off lately when they were unable to pay a huge bill resulting from FirstEnergy's merger "synergies."
And while we're exploring FirstEnergy's influence, I'd be remiss if I didn't share some of the tidbits that popped up that can only be categorized as just downright funny. For instance, did you know that Anthony Alexander, Jr., works at FirstEnergy as an analyst and still lives at home with Daddy Big Tony? I bet he's a favorite around the office, although he probably doesn't get invited to Friday afternoon happy hour too often. What do you suppose he "analyzes?" I'm picturing him as a work-at-home who carefully analyzes the effect of FirstEnergy's electricity supply on World of Warcraft in Daddy's basement, but then again I've never been short on imagination.
Or perhaps it would give you a giggle to realize how politically flexible the Alexander household appears to be. Republican or Democrat, it matters not when there's the personal satisfaction of an election well influenced to be had.
Or how about the fact that FirstEnergy's West Virginia elected official whisperer (aka "lobbyist") hails from Looneyville. Well, that explains a lot, Sammy.
Or maybe the fact that a whole bunch of these FirstEnergy employee contributions to Earl Ray were made on the same day at a fundraiser in Morgantown. Company road trip, everyone!!
And Earl Ray Tomblin isn't the only political pet of FirstEnergy and its employees... many of the same folks also contributed to the campaigns of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Ohio governor John Kasich.
Isn't it funny that FirstEnergy contributed $250,000 to some outfit called "Protect Your Vote Ohio" when the company was busy funneling money into West Virginia that would nullify the votes of actual West Virginians?
Hysterical -- FirstEnergy gave $10,000 to some astroturf-sounding outfit named Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan Coalition, when the company doesn't have any business interests in Michigan and seems to hate clean, affordable, renewable energy for its own home state of Ohio?
But even with all this money being shelled out, it appears that the opportunity of a lifetime has been overlooked by FirstEnergy! According to an article in today's Charleston Daily Mail, the West Virginia PSC is falling apart. The State Purchasing Department is currently soliciting bids for a design to fix the building's crumbling facade. Why doesn't FirstEnergy cover the cost of fixing the building? Then it could own the WV PSC, both literally and figuratively. Just a helpful little suggestion...