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Posts by Cole

Corruption & Secrecy | Maine

FEC Reports Suggest Collins Violated Ethics Rules By Accepting Campaign Contributions From Her Government Staff

By Cole Driver on August 1, 2019.

As recently as January 2019, Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign accepted illegal contributions from her own government staffers in an apparent violation of Senate ethics rules and federal law. The actions undermine decades-old promises to cease the illicit activities of her campaign in the late 90s.

According to reporting by The Hill from 1998, Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign violated Sec. 603 of the Federal criminal code, which states that it is illegal for a Member of Congress to accept political contributions, including an “advance of money,” from employees in their federal offices even if it is promptly reimbursed. Her chief of staff, Steve Abbott responded to the allegations from The Hill by vowing that this illegal practice would not continue. He also thanked the outlet for bringing the law to his attention, which he said the campaign was “not familiar” with.

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.

Corruption & Secrecy | Kentucky

Healthcare Executives Funneled Campaign Cash to Bevin After His Admin Helped Fund Their New Office Headquarters

By Cole Driver on July 31, 2019.

Top executives of healthcare corporation, BrightSpring -- formerly known as Rescare and PharmMerica -- donated tens of thousands to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s political campaign a year after Bevin’s administration approved a $500,000 state grant to help fund construction of the organization’s lavish new office headquarters.

According to a review of public filings by American Ledger, the donations from BrightSpring executives, made in February and March 2019, came just two months after BrightSpring opened the doors of it’s brand new office headquarters in Louisville.

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.

Health Care | Michigan

Lawsuit Pushed By the Trump Admin Could Leave Thousands in Macomb County Without Health Care

By Cole Driver on July 29, 2019.

An ongoing lawsuit -- supported by the Trump Administration -- winding its way through a federal appeals court has the potential to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, upending the economic security and well-being of millions of Americans in the process. In Macomb County, Michigan, that could spell disaster.

During the 2019 open enrollment period, over 30,000 Macomb residents enrolled in a plan on the exchanges, and since the passage of the ACA, over 58,000 residents have gained coverage under the law’s Medicaid expansion.

Health Care | Michigan

As Calhoun County Continues to Suffer From the Opioid Crisis, No Additional Federal Funding in Sight

By Cole Driver on July 29, 2019.

Beginning in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies -- such as Purdue Pharma -- assured doctors, patients and families that their new medication to relieve pain was non-addictive.

They lied.

Since the 90s, over-prescribed opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, have flooded American households, taking hundreds of thousands of lives by overdose and fueling a public health crisis across the country. And recently, in regions like Calhoun County, Michigan, the opioid epidemic has taken a turn for the worse, leaving some to argue that not enough is being done at the federal level to address the crisis.

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