This news story originally provided by The Register-Herald
October 15, 2004

For The Sake of Kids gets $2.5 million, mostly Massey cash

By Mannix Porterfield/REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER
A group known as And For the Sake of The Kids has generated $2.5 million in donations to finance a media blitzkrieg designed to oust controversial Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, and the lion's share of the cash was put up by the head of Massey Energy.

Saying he has "anguished" over West Virginia's problems for some time, Massey's chief executive officer, Don Blankenship, donated $1.7 million of the contributions given the so-called 527 group.

Blankenship said his donation reflects $1 per child in the state.

Beyond the election, the Massey executive pledged to raise a like amount in the next few years for the creation of a special foundation, providing clothing and other essentials to West Virginia's most needy children.

About 100,000 children are mired in poverty in this state, the head of the non-union coal conglomerate said.

The group has been running ads assailing McGraw's vote in a 3-2 court edict that reinstated probation for convicted child rapist Tony Dean Arbaugh. While on probation, Arbaugh, once charged with assaulting 11 children, some as young as 4, violated conditions and even pleaded guilty to smuggling marijuana into a regional jail.

McGraw's campaign manager, A.V. Gallagher, pointed out the donation by Blankenship alone is six times the amount the incumbent justice has received for the general election.

"We have said all along that special interests are trying to buy this election in a bid to tell West Virginians how to vote and to deny them the right to elect their own judges," he said.

The group's report was issued by George Carenbauer, a former state Democratic chairman who is working for McGraw's defeat.

"Warren McGraw says he's for the 'working man,' but he's not," Blankenship said in a statement.

"He's for trial lawyers and he's for himself. His brother (Attorney General) Darrell McGraw buys what is clearly campaign material with thousands of dollars of public money."

Recently, a fired employee of the attorney general claimed Darrell McGraw approved the purchase of $140,000 in trinkets bearing his name to be distributed across the state to help his re-election. He faces Army Capt. Hiram Lewis in the November election.

Beckley businessman Carl Hubbard, a co-ounder of And For the Sake of The Kids, called McGraw's battle with Republican challenger Brent Benjamin "the most important race in the state."

"We're all a group of West Virginians that care about the safety of our children and taking the future back," Hubbard said.

Hubbard said he founded the group with Dr. Dan McGraw of Parkersburg to "educate West Virginians about the disastrous effect Warren McGraw has had on our state."

Once the election ends, Hubbard said, his group will remain active to focus on issues such as insurance coverage.

"A foundation is forming and we will always help needy children in our state over the next several years," he said.

Hubbard's Heritage Equipment, a Beckley firm that was thrust into the forefront of the battle over coal trucks two years ago before the Legislature raised the maximum weights, employs 42 people in this region, he noted.

That translates into 30 spouses with 19 school-age children and eight pre-school, he said.

"That's 99 people who depend on me and my partner for their livelihood. We don't take that lightly."

Since 1999, he said, Heritage's Workers' Compensation premiums jumped 83 percent and dealership insurance soared 47 percent.

Hubbard faults McGraw in large part, given his record of consistently ruling against employers in favor of workers.

"If an employee is due that (compensation), I'm fine with that," he said. "Employers cannot be wrong 100 percent of the time. McGraw sides with trial lawyers and the unions.

- E-mail: mporterfield@register-herald.com