“After Norfolk Southern Support, DeWine Says No Disaster In East Palestine” – The Lever
“Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s track record and rail company links raise questions about his ability to hold the rail giant accountable for the derailment disaster.” – Feb 23, 2023• Matthew Cunningham-Cook
Why wouldn’t a Governor declare a disaster after a major train derailment involving toxic chemicals? When in doubt, follow the money. This PowerMap connects some of the dots between billion dollar corporations, lobbyists, politicians and dark money groups.
Follow the money
When can FEMA help?
“The Governor of the affected State must submit a request to the President, through the appropriate Regional Administrator, within 30 days of the occurrence of the incident. The request must be based upon a finding that the situation is beyond the capability of the State and affected local governments or Indian tribal government and that supplemental federal emergency assistance is necessary to save lives and protect property, public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) §401 states in part that: “All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State.” – FEMA
DeWine has refused to issue a disaster declaration
“DeWine has refused to issue a disaster declaration that would send much-needed federal resources to East Palestine and draw attention to the Norfolk Southern accident. He has also failed to ensure that the railroad giant paid the price for two other derailments in his state earlier this year. The governor’s failure to act raises questions about his management of the crisis — and the influence of his close ties to Norfolk Southern’s Ohio lobbying firm, which just so happens to be at the center of what federal prosecutors have called “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.
Norfolk Southern and its political action committee (PAC) have donated more than $20,000 directly to DeWine’s gubernatorial campaigns as well as his 2019 inauguration. The company has also delivered $165,000 to political committees supporting DeWine’s political career, including the Republican Governors Association and the Republican Attorneys General Association.
What’s more, DeWine has a very close relationship with Norfolk Southern’s lobbyists in Columbus. Dan McCarthy, DeWine’s legislative director from January 2019 to September 2021, previously served as president of Norfolk Southern’s Ohio lobbying firm, The Success Group, from 1994 until 2020. The rail company has had The Success Group on retainer since at least 2009, according to Ohio lobbying records. – The Lever
Dark money is the root of all evil
“Dark money” refers to campaign money whose sources are not disclosed. An expenditure – for example, for a television ad criticizing an opponent – will often be publicly reported to the FEC but not the identities of the people, firms or organizations that pay for it.
A lack of disclosure makes it harder for journalists, regulators and opponents to detect violations of campaign finance law, such as illegal contributions from foreign donors or government contractors and contributions over the legal limit. It also hides legal contributions from disreputable sources like Harvey Weinstein or Bernie Madoff.
Some dark money spending is reported to the Federal Election Commission without disclosing donors and some dark money spending isn’t reported at all. The campaign finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics found that dark money groups reported spending US$181 million in the 2016 federal elections. Dark money accounted for nearly a fifth of all spending by groups other than candidates and parties in the last decade.” – Columbia Law School
Network maps help reveal the connections between people, groups, hidden relationships and money changing hands. They can be used to track criminals, terrorists (like in the Homeland TV show)or dark money. We created this map with the free Kumu app in a few hours.
TakeAway: Keep an eye on dark money that influences political decisions. Demand more transparency to political contributions.
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