(WJHL) – Funded by the principals behind the Bristol Mall casino proposal, the “Betting on Virginia Jobs” political action committee gave more than $600,000 to Virginia legislators, candidates and PACs between April and December 2019. The PAC doled out a total of 111 separate campaign contributions.
The PAC was funded equally by Clyde E. Stacy and Jim McGlothlin, who individually or through their companies gave $325,000 each. After the current Senate majority and minority leaders and the House of Delegates speaker, the largest beneficiaries were from Southwest Virginia.
A search for contributions by Steve Johnson, the developer behind the Pinnacle casino proposal, shows his only contribution since the casino issue arose more than a year ago was $5,000 to Will Wampler (R-Abingdon) in his campaign for delegate. The 28-year-old Wampler received $8,000 from the Betting on Virginia Jobs PAC in his successful effort to capture the 4th District seat vacated by Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon), who in turn won the 40th District Senate Seat.
Betting on Virginia Jobs contributed $50,000 to now Senate Minority leader Tommy Noment in August, and a total of $30,000 to now Senate Majority leader Dick Saslaw, $25,000 in May and $5,000 in December. Now House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn received $25,000 in September.
Many other campaign contributions ranged from $1,000 to $5,000, but members of the Southwest Virginia delegation typically received more. Topping that list was Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City), who got a total of $20,000 — $15,000 in August and $5,000 in October.
Aug. 21 was a busy day for contributions in Southwest Virginia. Delegate Israel O’Quinn (R-Abingdon) received $12,000 that day. Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon), and delegates Will Morefield (R-Tazewell) and Jeff Campbell (R-Marion) each received $10,000 donations. Senate Candidate Pillion received $10,000 five days later.
The Betting on Virginia Jobs PAC’s showed a balance of $27,740 and $624,259 in expenditures in its year-end report. Its first expense was $52.40 to ChecksForLess.com out of Portland, Maine.
Since Johnson and the Eastern Band of the Cherokees’ January announcement that they hoped to put a casino on the Pinnacle Property in Washington County, Va., the Bristol casino backers, who have affiliated with the Hard Rock brand, have sought to protect the casino-enabling legislation as proposed. It would not allow casinos outside of five municipalities, including Bristol, which would leave the Pinnacle proposal out of the running.