Report: Daniels' Re-Election Fueled With Nearly $450,000 in 'Dirty Coal' Contributions

Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:30pm EST

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Report: Daniels' Re-Election Fueled With Nearly $450,000 in 'Dirty Coal'
Contributions

Daniels Takes In Huge Contributions from Mining Companies, Utilities; Governor
Has Still Not Responded to Public Records Request About Ties to Duke Energy

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recently re-elected Indiana
Governor Mitch Daniels' role as the champion of coal has not gone unnoticed or
unrewarded by coal mining firms, industry suppliers and the utilities that
burn the dirty energy source.  Data released today by four Indiana groups show
that coal interests paid $433,462 in campaign contributions to help secure the
re-election of Daniels.  The previously undisclosed largesse of the coal
industry and related utilities may help to explain why the governor has not
yet responded to a public records request lawfully filed three-and-a-half
months ago about ties between his Administration and Duke Energy.

The gifts to Daniels were made between January 2005 and November 2008
according to a comprehensive new analysis of Indiana Election Division records
released today by the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Valley Watch, Common Cause
and Citizens Action Coalition.  The funds, which came from corporate coffers,
company affiliated political action committees, and individual company owners,
executives, and lobbyists, represent 28 different industry interests, all of
which are either members of the Indiana Coal Council -- coal's chief lobbying
arm in the state -- or own coal mines in Indiana, or both.

Daniels's biggest coal-connected donors are the utilities NiSource ($100,250)
and Duke Energy ($83,337). NiSource (better known locally as Northern Indiana
Public Service Co. or "NIPSCO") and Duke Energy are both members of the
Indiana Coal Council, and both rely on coal-fired power plants for much of the
power they sell in the state.  Duke is currently petitioning Indiana
regulators for approvals in connection with a controversial new coal-fired
power plant it plans to build at Edwardsport. Most of the NiSource
contribution came from the company's PAC. But Duke Energy is, by far, the
largest source of coal connected contributors to Daniels, with gifts from
almost 30 Duke executives among its $83,337 total.

Donors associated with a dozen companies that operate coal mines and/or own
coal reserves in Indiana dug up a total of $107,375 in cash for Daniels. This
total includes: $10,000 from a top lobbyist for the world's largest coal
company, Peabody Investments, plus $18,450 more from that firm and its Indiana
subsidiary; as well as $34,250 from Evansville utility and energy firm
Vectren, which mines its own coal and plans to open two new mines in the
state.

Grant Smith, executive director, Citizens Action Coalition, said:  "As the
numbers show, coal's political influence in Indiana is striking.  The case of
Duke Energy shows what that influence means in practical terms.  With Duke and
its CEO Jim Rogers, it's all about boosting revenue.  The planned coal plants
in Indiana and elsewhere in its service territory are not needed.  Duke has
received approval based on pliable regulatory regimes in the face of evidence
demonstrating that cheaper and cleaner alternatives can meet electric energy
demand.  Duke has managed the same type of influence peddling by arranging for
a similar amendment to the federal stimulus package.  The amendment ties
pro-utility rate designs, in this case decoupling, to energy efficiency block
grants.  As usual, the company is attempting to create unjustified, additional
revenue streams on the backs of ratepayers who cannot afford Duke's business
plan."   

David Maidenberg, director, Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, said:  "At a time
when many other states are moving away from coal for economic, environmental
and health reasons, this administration serves as its cheerleader. While these
campaign contributions are presumably legal, the study raises questions about
whether the Governor's independence of judgment and ability to provide
Hoosiers with objective regulation of utilities may be impaired by these
campaign gifts."

John Blair, president, Valley Watch, said:  "Indiana is one of the most
polluted states in the nation and that is largely due to the many old and
dirty coal plants that operate here. It is no wonder Governor Daniels is
reluctant to answer our records request since it is clear he resides in the
back pocket of the industry that causes much of the ill health in southern
Indiana."

Julia Vaughn, policy director, Common Cause Indiana, said:  "Indiana's lax
campaign contribution laws allow those with deep pockets to exercise undue
influence over state policies.  This research strongly suggests that the coal
industry, and those with ties to it, have invested heavily in Governor Daniels
and he has not disappointed them."

Governor Daniels has so far failed to respond to a public record disclosure
request lawfully filed under Indiana law three-and-a-half months ago (October
29, 2008) by Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, and
Valley Watch.  In the October 29th filing, the three groups sought the
production of all documents and other records detailing "actions, public or
non-public, that Governor Daniels and his Administration may have taken" to
promote Duke Energy's proposed new power plant at Edwardsport.  The public
records demand letter also seeks to determine whether and how much of Governor
Daniels's 2008 "energy summit" -- held two months before the election on
September 3-4, 2008 in Indianapolis -- was underwritten by private utilities
or other interests.

Other key report findings include the following:
    --  According to the report, campaign finance records strongly suggest
Duke
        Energy and CEO Rogers staged a fundraiser for Daniels in May 2008. On
a
        single day that month (the 8th), the Daniels campaign recorded $18,300
        worth of donations from 20 Duke Energy executives, three members of
the
        board of directors (or family businesses controlled by them), and two
        company PACs. On April 25th 2008, the campaign had reported a $1,991
        "food for event" in-kind contribution from Chairman/CEO Rogers
        and later in May reported a $5,000 donation from him.
    --  Daniels received $34,500 from "one of the largest consumers of coal
        in the Western Hemisphere" (AEP).  American Electric Power (parent
        of Indiana Michigan Power), its PAC and some executives, gave Daniels
        $34,500 in 2005-2008 period covered by this analysis. A member of the
        Indiana Coal Council, AEP identifies itself on its corporate web site
as
        "one of the largest consumers of coal in the Western
        Hemisphere" -- fuel for its many coal fired power plants.
    --  Daniels also received $81,750 more from donors who sell equipment and
        services to dig and move coal.  In addition to coal producers like
        Peabody, and coal consumers like Duke, Indiana Coal Council membership
        rolls include businesses that supply and service the coal industry
with
        equipment, professional expertise, and transportation. Coal Council
        member MacAllister Machinery, for example, holds the Indiana franchise
        for Caterpillar Equipment and its giant earthmovers. MacAllister, its
        family ownership, and an affiliated company gave Daniels $42,000 in
the
        2005-2008 period covered by this analysis. Three railroads and two
        trucking companies -- all Coal Council members -- and their executives
        and PACs, gave a collective $30,250 during the same timeframe.



The comprehensive new analysis of Indiana Election Division records was
conducted for the Sierra Club Hoosier chapter, Valley Watch, Common Cause and
Citizens Action Coalition by the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society
Institute and TheCLEAN.org.

ABOUT THE GROUPS
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970
by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the
political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public
interest.

The mission of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana
(http://www.citact.org) is to initiate, facilitate and coordinate citizen
action directed to improving the quality of life of all inhabitants of the
State of Indiana through principled advocacy of public policies to preserve
democracy, conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and provide
affordable access to essential human services.

The Sierra Club's mission is to: (1) explore, enjoy and protect the wild
places of the earth; (2) practice and promote responsible use of the earth's
ecosystems and resources; and (3) educate and enlist humanity to protect and
restore the quality of the natural and human environment. For more
information, go to http://www.Indiana.sierraclub.org.

Valley Watch is an Evansville-based environmental health group and its purpose
is to "protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River
Valley." It is on the web at http://valleywatch.net.

CONTACT:Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or landerson@hastingsgroup.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE:   A streaming audio recording of the news event will be
available on the Web at http://www.citact.org as of 6 p.m. ET on February 12,
2009.



SOURCE  Citizens Action Coalition, Indianapolis, IN; Sierra Club Hoosier
Chapter, Indianapolis, IN; Valley Watch, Evansville, IN; Common Cause Indiana,
Indianapolis, IN

Leslie Anderson, +1-703-276-3256, landerson@hastingsgroup.com, for Citizens
Action Coalition, Indianapolis, IN
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