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Posts by Cole

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.

Economy | Wisconsin

Kimberly-Clark Corp. Shutters Wisconsin Plant Despite Reporting $3.3B in Profits

By Cole Driver on August 12, 2019.

During his campaign for President in 2016, President Trump repeatedly promised a revival of manufacturing jobs across the Midwest. But after Kimberly-Clark Corp. closed down its plant in Neenah, Wisconsin, at the end of May 2019 -- even as the company enjoyed a multi-million payday from the President’s corporate tax bill -- some 100 people were out of work.

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex, Kotex and other personal-care brands, announced in January 2018 that it would be laying off between 5,000 and 5,500 employees across the country, including the 100 jobs in Wisconsin. On the same day, the company reported $3.3 billion in profits in the 2017 fiscal year.

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.

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