Thursday, March 01, 2001

Big campaign contributor may benefit from energy bill




The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — An eastern Kentucky coal producer who has donated more than a half-million dollars to political groups in the last three years could benefit from energy legislation pending in Washington.

        Coal magnate Larry Addington has contributed more than $800,000 — giving $500,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1998 to 2000, while U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville was its chairman.

        Now, Mr. McConnell is sponsoring legislation that could provide tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks for a Lexington power company with ties to the Addington family — and valuable exemptions from environmental protection rules.

        “Larry Addington is a generous supporter of the Senatorial Committee, which we were grateful for,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. “He has helped us to compete. He has never asked for anything.”

        Mr. Addington and a spokesman did not respond to repeated telephone messages seeking comment.

        Mr. Addington, one of the nation's biggest political donors, has been giving money to campaigns since at least 1979, Federal Election Commission records show. But his giving has skyrocketed in recent years.

        In 1996, he gave $15,000 to political parties and federal candidates. By 1998, that amount had ballooned to $215,000. His record year was 2000: $470,000. These figures don't include Mr. Addington's donations to candidates for state and local offices. He also gave $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee during the party's national convention in Los Angeles.

        Much of the money was given about the same time auditors were raising questions about the ability of Mr. Addington's AEI Resources to stay in business. T

        The federal legislation under consideration would likely benefit EnviroPower LLC, a Lexington company with close ties to AEI Resources. EnviroPower, where Mr. Addington's brother Bruce is chairman, has proposed building at least four coal-fired power plants in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. One of the plants would be based in eastern Kentucky.

       



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