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Outside Spending Dominates Rahall-Jenkins Race

GRAPHIC: Outside groups have spent or committed to spend about $5.5 million for political ads in West Virginia's 3rd congressional race, where Congressman Nick Rahall is running against state Sen. Evan Jenkins. That's about one-and-a-half times what the candidates and the parties are spending. Screengrab from an ad by Nick Rahall for Congress.
GRAPHIC: Outside groups have spent or committed to spend about $5.5 million for political ads in West Virginia's 3rd congressional race, where Congressman Nick Rahall is running against state Sen. Evan Jenkins. That's about one-and-a-half times what the candidates and the parties are spending. Screengrab from an ad by Nick Rahall for Congress.
August 14, 2014

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Outside groups are spending about one-and-a-half times what the parties and candidates are spending in West Virginia's 3rd congressional race. Congressman Nick Rahall (W. Va.)and the Democrats have spent or committed $1.8 million for campaign ads.

For the Republicans and state Senator Evan Jenkins (W.Va.) it's about the same. By comparison, outside groups have spent or committed $5.5 million with $3 million coming from groups allied to oil-and-chemical billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Matt Thornton, communications director with the House Majority PAC, says they came to Rahall's assistance because of the Koch brothers.

"He has done an incredible job representing his constituents and would be in a great position for re-election had it not been for this massive amount of money being spent by the Koch brothers to try and distort his record," Thornton says.

Campaign-ad buys are often difficult to track, but a source close to the race revealed the figures for past spending and ad reservations.

One of the largest Koch-affiliated organizations is Americans for Prosperity. AFP's state director is Wendy McCuskey. She declined to be interviewed for this story but confirmed the organization has spent $1.1 million on the race. By e-mail McCuskey said their ads are intended to hold "Congressman Rahall accountable for the policies he supports."

Thornton says the Kochs' real intention is to promote a radical, right-wing agenda that includes privatizing Social Security and opposing the minimum wage.

"It's necessary to spend money in order to oppose the massive amounts of dollars the Koch brothers are using to attack Nick Rahall with unfair ads," Thornton says. "We're not going to stand idly by while they attempt to push their agenda through Congress."

Thornton stresses that while PACs, such as the House Majority group, are legally required to report the names of their donors, AFP and the other Koch groups are not. McCuskey said AFP would not release the names of the people who donate the money it spends in the Rahall-Jenkins race.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV