Political Party Time

Manchin uses mansion in Senate run

After declaring he would run for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat two weeks ago, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III is fundraising tonight at the grand Rock Creek Park chateau of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., according to this invitation.

Manchin has raised cash at the mansion in the past. In spring 2008, he raised $26,000 from, among others, executives of coal and power companies, Verizon, and a top Democratic lobbyist, according to this campaign finance statement filed by the Manchin campaign.

Unlike federal law, West Virginia campaign finance law requires campaigns to report donations brought in from a specific fundraiser. Total receipts and expenditures from the event must be included, as well as the name of each donor and the amount given.

At the 2008 event, $5,000 came from the head honchos of American Electric Power and its subsidiary in West Virginia. The company is one of the country's largest power providers, and its PAC has doled out more than $1 million to federal candidates this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Foundation Coal's executives and PAC gave $4,500; the company merged with Alpha Natural Resources to become the country's third largest coal producer last year. Verizon's general counsel, Randal Milch, and the president of Verizon West Virginia, Brian Fulton, contributed  a total of $1,500. Verizon has given more than $1.3 million to federal candidates this election cycle.

Democratic healthcare lobbyist Frederick Graefe, one of The Hill's top "hired guns" of 2009 and a frequent party host -- often at his law office -- contributed $500 at the party.

The event is reportedly one of "five or six" shindigs Manchin is having in and near his home state as the election nears. The suggested contribition for this one is $5,000 for hosts, $2,500 for sponsors annd $1,000 for PACs and individuals.

Manchin announced his candidacy after appointing an ally, Carte Goodwin, who said he would not seek re-election, to be interim senator, and signing a bill allowing a special Senate primary on Aug. 28 and election this fall.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., the only Republican in the state's Congressional delegation, decided she wouldn't run. Fifteen people have filed as candidates, including 95-year-old ex-Congressman Ken Hechler.

Manchin has around $140,000 leftover from his 2008 gubernatorial campaign, but it's illegal to use those funds for a U.S. Senate run, the Charleston Gazette reported.