In 2016, Special Interests Hide True Intent
There’s a considerable amount of confusion among voters around the state regarding a “new” group spending millions of dollars on local legislative races in the 2016 election cycle.
A super PAC known as, “West Virginia Family Values” does have a new name, but make no mistake, there is nothing new about the groups behind it. In fact, it is merely comprised of the two single wealthiest and partisan special interest groups in the state: labor unions and personal injury lawyers. So when referring this as a new group, it’s new in name only. Two years ago, these same special interests spent over $1.5 million on local legislative races under the name “Honest West Virginians.”
Their advertisements make some rather interesting statements about their organization. Currently they claim that West Virginia Family Values is a group of local citizens who are interested in electing candidates who support our history of “conservative” values.
It’s difficult to summarize how misleading that claim is. When they say local citizens, they are referring to a small group of extraordinarily wealthy personal injury lawyers, and labor union executives. According to the most recent campaign filing reports, the average contribution to their effort is over $34,000. We clearly aren’t dealing with a group of concerned local citizens when the average size check written to this effort is more than most West Virginians makes in an entire year. Regardless, they’re intent on making you believe that. What’s more interesting is the notion that this group supports “conservative” anything. There are some simple facts that must be taken into account here. Liberal Democrats support labor unions and personal injury lawyers, and they, in turn, support liberal Democrats. This is no secret, except they really want it to be in West Virginia. So much so, that they’ll go out of their way to display how much they support “conservative” values.
This group is not supporting a single Republican or Independent. It’s sole purpose is to reclaim Democrat’s control of the West Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate in order to stop the most conservative agenda West Virginians have seen in a lifetime. So why claim to support conservative values when you’re out to stop a pro-growth conservative agenda? Simple. It’s easier to fib than to be honest when your intentions aren’t popular with voters.
These same groups have financially backed and endorsed people like President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi — politicians with whom they share similar mindsets and agendas when it comes to the government’s role in our lives. Not exactly what you’d call “conservative.”
Big government labor bosses are really upset with Republicans right now. Lawmakers passed legislation that no longer allows them to fire workers who won’t financially support them, and they are now making labor unions compete for taxpayer funded construction projects the exact same way companies do in the private market.
The same goes for personal injury lawyers. They’ve become multi-millionaires by suing West Virginia businesses into oblivion. They stacked the Legislature in recent decades to pass laws that made it even easier to sue people. And, after losing countless jobs and entire industries by being on the “judicial hellhole” list, newly elected Republicans decided to pass common sense reforms which designate reasonable legal processes, stamp out frivolous lawsuits, curb sue and settle tactics and put caps in to affect on things like punitive damages.
These special interests are now fully invested in buying it all back; after the first two-year cycle of GOP leadership in 80 years, they’ve had enough. They want to go back to when laws kept our tax dollars rolling in to their bank accounts, they had full access to workers’ paychecks whether those workers’ liked it or not and suing West Virginia business was simple, easy and extremely lucrative.
Is this nearly $2 million and counting enough to buy back the state that they used to so passionately claim isn’t for sale? It’s either a return to the status quo or bust. I’m honestly not sure how anyone could be excited about that prospect but, one thing is for certain, the bunch behind this wave of political cash really hopes that one of the things our families don’t value is paying attention.
Holyman is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of West Virginia.