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Accountability

Accountability | Wisconsin

Sauk County Continues to Combat the Opioid Epidemic With No Serious Support in Sight From Trump Admin

By Cole Driver on August 12, 2019.

Despite President Trump touting “great success” in fighting the opioid epidemic during his first term, the public health crisis has continued to ravage communities across America. Areas of the Midwest like Sauk County, Wisconsin, have been particularly hard hit where one out of every 140 residents requires treatment for opioid addiction.

In 2016, the rate of individual users seeking substance abuse services in Sauk County increased to 5.2%. And in 2017, local law enforcement reported seeing a reemergence of methamphetamine addiction in Sauk County, which they directly linked to heroin addiction stemming from the opioid crisis.

Accountability | Wisconsin

As Opioid Epidemic Ravages Kenosha County, Federal Budget Cuts Could Compound Crisis, Deaths

By Cole Driver on August 12, 2019.

Over an 18 year period, Kenosha County, Wisconsin ranked first in the state for heroin-related deaths and fourth for deaths stemmed from opioid addiction. In 2017 the crisis took a turn for the worse: opioid overdose became the leading cause of accidental death in Kenosha County, with more than 50 people dying per year.

The escalating crisis, particularly in pockets of the Midwest, is leaving some to question whether or not the Trump Administration is taking the situation seriously and providing necessary resources to combat the epidemic. At the root of the criticism is a $1.5 trillion budget cut that could negatively impact programs that lower-income Americans rely on in order to treat addiction.

Accountability | Kentucky

While Republican Leaders Remain Silent, Miners’ Livelihoods are Being Gutted by Coal Giant Blackjewel

By Cole Driver on August 1, 2019.

Despite Republican promises to revive and protect the coal industry in the United States and Kentucky, Blackjewel, the nation’s 6th largest coal producer, has stopped paying thousands of its mining employees in a move that is wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of mining communities. The consequences are a direct result of the company’s recent bankruptcy filing.

On July 1, Blackjewel LLC, based in West Virginia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, stilling its mines across the country, including 10 in Virginia alone. In total, about 1,700 Blackjewel employees in mining operations across Virginia, Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky are still out of work.

Accountability | Maine

Collins Flip-Flops Support of Election Security Bill Amid McConnell Backlash

By Cole Driver on July 31, 2019.

According to a review by American Ledger, despite publicly heralding her support of a recent bill to strengthen U.S. elections against the threat of a foreign power, Sen. Susan Collins opposed that exact same bill -- the FIRE Act -- just last month.

In June 2019, Collins disavowed Sen. Mark Warner’s legislation, the FIRE Act -- which required offers of campaign assistance from foreign countries be reported to the FBI -- stating the legislation was “overly broad” and that Canada should not be held to the same standard as Russia.

Accountability | Virginia

Va. Delegate Bobby Orrock Raised 99.6% of Campaign Cash This Year From Corporations, Special Interests

By Cole Driver on July 30, 2019.

According to a review of public filings by American Ledger, Virginia Delegate Bobby Orrock has raised the overwhelming majority of his campaign funds -- 99.6% -- from large corporations and special interests. Only .4% of Orrock’s total campaign contributions raised since January 2019 came from individual donors.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, in particular, have flooded Orrock’s campaign with cash. Between January and June 2019, Orrock received $16,000 from the Medical Society of Virginia. And in May, Orrock pocketed a $1,000 contribution from health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Accountability | Maine

Analysis: Susan Collins’ Special Interest Fundraising Has Potential to Undermine Re-Election Campaign

By Cole Driver on July 29, 2019.

According to a review by American Ledger, Senator Susan Collins is relying on outsized donations from special interest groups -- such as Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry -- to fuel her reelection campaign, despite decades-long trumpeting of herself as an independent voice for Mainers.
In her 2019 second quarter filing, Collins received less than 5%, or $98,000, of her itemized fundraising from Maine itself, while pulling in large contributions from special interests such as Wall Street financiers, to the tune of over $300,000. In total, Collins received nearly $400,000 from Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, and the fossil fuel industry -- three of the most powerful special interests in Washington -- over the 90 day reporting period.

Accountability | Virginia

Bill DeSteph Held a Fundraiser at a Men’s-Only Club with a History of Anti-Semitism and Racism

By Cole Driver on July 19, 2019.

In June 2019, Bill DeSteph, a State Senator representing Virginia’s 8th district, held a fundraiser in a club which has a sordid history of denying admission to women, Jewish and black Americans.

The fundraiser, tabbed at $125 per person, was hosted at the historically all-male Commonwealth Club in Richmond, Virginia, which was originally founded by former Confederate military officers.

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