Companies facing legal action fill coffers of Kentucky Republican attorney general nominee
Russell Coleman has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Big Tobacco and toxic polluters.
Republican candidate for Kentucky Attorney General, Russell Coleman, answers questions from the media before the start of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Russell Coleman, the Republican nominee for Kentucky attorney general, accepted over $20,000 from companies and lobbyists linked to lawsuits involving the commonwealth. If elected, he could shape the commonwealth’s handling of future cases against them.
Coleman served as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky under President Donald Trump. He faces Democratic state Rep. Pamela Stevenson in the election ending on Nov. 7.
In June, Coleman accepted $4,100 from Altria Group, Inc. PAC, the political arm of a tobacco corporation with a sizable stake in the Juul e-cigarette. Earlier this year, Kentucky was awarded a $14 million settlement as a part of a multi-state lawsuit against Juul for its role in contributing to the youth vaping crisis.
Coleman has also taken a combined $1,250 from senior executives at Altria and another $3,500 from Altria lobbyists. If elected, Coleman would be responsible for enforcing statewide vaping restrictions.
Lobbyists for the Westlake Chemical Corporation contributed $2,000 to Coleman. In June 2022, Westlake was sued by the commonwealth of Kentucky and other plaintiffs and forced to pay a $1 million fine for violating emissions standards.
Westlake agreed to spend an additional $110 million upgrading equipment to fix the emissions. Coleman would make decisions about future litigation if that agreement was not fulfilled. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency found a substantial cancer risk in the area surrounding Westlake’s plant.
Coleman has also taken more than $9,500 from lobbyists for Pace-O-Matic, a manufacturer of cash payout video games known as “gray machines.” The word “gray” literally refers to the gray area of the law that makes the unregulated machines legal. They are banned in Kentucky. In 2023, Pace-O-Matic sued the state, arguing that the ban should be overturned. Coleman would oversee the lawsuit if elected.
Coleman calls himself a “law-and-order conservative.” His campaign did not immediately respond to questions for this story.
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