Daryl Cowles and the Politics of Meth in West Virginia

Anytime you hear a West Virginia politician taking a position on legislation that would adversely impact the interests of a major corporation or industry, just go to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s web site and look who is donating to his or her campaign.

Take, for example, West Virginia Senator Doug Facemire (Democrat — Braxton County).

Facemire was on Hoppy Kercheval’s Talkline show yesterday, arguing for a rollback of oil and gas industry tank regulation that was passed earlier this year in Charleston.

“Why do we want to put this undue burden on this industry?” Facemire said.

Facemire wants a special session of the legislature to take up legislation that would exempt hundreds of tanks from state regulation.

A quick search finds that oil and gas interests have donated thousands of dollars to Facemire’s campaigns over the years.

Or take the case of Daryl Cowles (Republican — Morgan County and Hampshire County), the minority whip in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Earlier this year, Cowles came out strongly opposed to legislation that would require a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine, the medicine that is in Sudafed, is one of the key ingredients in the manufacturing process for crystal methamphetamine.

The bill would have exempted a type of Sudafed that can’t readily be used to make meth.

The legislation would cut profits of some big pharmaceutical companies — companies such as Johnson & Johnson, which makes Sudafed.

But there was Cowles telling reporters — “Why should my people have to get a prescription?”

The bill eventually went down to defeat, succumbing to a lobbying barrage from Big Pharma.

Cowles’ campaign had taken in more $3,000 from pharmaceutical industry political action committees since he became a delegate in 2006. And then earlier this year, in April 2014, Merck PAC kicked in another $500.

Now let’s look at Cowles’ five Republican colleagues in the House who stood up to Big Pharma and co-sponsored the bill that Cowles’ opposed.

According to our calculation, since 2006, Big Pharma gave two of them nothing, gave two of them $500 each and gave one of them $1,000.

So, Big Pharma gave Cowles more than the other five Republicans combined.

Cowles might actually believe all of the “get government off our backs” rhetoric that he spouts.

But the big corporations like him and support him because he brings home the bacon.

He favors mountaintop removal mining. (Coal interests, including former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, have donated thousands to his campaigns.)

Cowles is opposed to requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

And he’s one of five out of 100 members of the West Virginia House of Delegates who voted against a small raise in West Virginia’s minimum wage.

What’s not to like?

 

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