By Steven Allen Adams, Parkersburg News and Sentinel
CHARLESTON, W.Va — Lobbyists for some of West Virginia’s largest constituencies — seniors, natural gas producers and coal mining interests — were the largest spenders during the 2023 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature.
Registered lobbyists in West Virginia were required to submit activity reports by May 15 covering activities between Jan. 1 and April 30 to the West Virginia Ethics Commission.
According to the first quarter lobbyist activity report published by the commission on May 30, 109 registered lobbyists spent a total of $364,586 between January and April coinciding with the 60-day legislative session held between Jan. 11 and March 11.
The top 10 biggest spenders during the quarter represent major constituency groups and industry sectors in West Virginia, including seniors, fossil fuels, labor, healthcare, alcohol/tobacco and gambling, among others.
The top spender during the session was AARP West Virginia, that represents more than 40% of state residents 50 and older. AARP is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates or give political donations, but the organization does have a robust public policy and legislative agenda each year. …
The next two largest spenders were West Virginia Coal Association President Chris Hamilton and Paul Hardesty, a lobbyist for several coal interests and also the president of the West Virginia Board of Education. …