McGinty returned campaign check from Pa. businessman tied to West Virginia spill
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty has returned campaign donations from a Western Pennsylvania coal executive tied to the West Virginia chemical spill.
According to Capitolwire, McGinty’s campaign was unaware of the connection between the donor and Freedom Industries– the company at the center of the January accident which left thousands of people without water.
James Clifford Forrest III, president Kittanning-based Rosebud Mining Co., made two $20,000 contributions last year to McGinty’s gubernatorial campaign, according to campaign finance reports.
Her campaign manager said the money was returned in mid-January once it was clear of the connection. McGinty, who was also a former environmental policy adviser to the Clinton White House and Al Gore’s 2000 presidential run, raised $2.4 million in 2013 and reported having $1.8 million on hand at the end of the year.
“We were unaware he had any ownership in that,” said McGinty campaign manager Mike Mikus. “When we saw the Tribune-Review article, we returned the check the following day.”
The spill of coal processing chemicals in early January contaminated the water system around the state capital of Charleston and nine surrounding counties, forcing 300,000 residents to look elsewhere for water. The company blamed for the spill, Freedom Industries Inc., is owned by Rosebud.
Forrest acquired Freedom Industries just over a week before the Jan. 9 spill. Freedom Industries is the target of lawsuits and a federal investigation and has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in West Virginia court. The ownership of the company was revealed when Forrest’s lawyers filed bankruptcy documents in West Virginia court.